Veterans Bus trips to Washington D.C. 

          Honor Flight Pittsburgh recognizes American War Veterans for their sacrifices and achievements by transporting them via deluxe motor coach to Washington, D.C., to visit those memorials dedicated to honor their service and sacrifices. 

       “We take World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War veterans to D.C. to see their memorials and honor them for their service. Since starting in 2005, we have taken over 200,000 on the trip from over 130 cities in the USA. From Pittsburgh we go by bus; it is a long day but an amazing day,” said Ron Schall, board member for Honor Flight Pittsburgh. 

        “Our next trip is September 29. We have two busses going. When we return at 10:30 p.m., the welcome home is amazing. We will have fire and police line the streets – lights flashing, sirens blasting and large flags. Patriot riders will also line the street. The busses will be greeted by 200-300 people to welcome them home. The Vietnam vets appreciate this more because of the welcome they would have received in the 70s was non-existent.”  For more information, on this Vets trip visit https://www.honorflightpittsburgh.org/ 

         A second veterans group will be heading to Washington in October. This band of vets began their trips in the fall of 2006. Jim Hilts of Coraopolis, who is a Vietnam War veteran, was on a quest to take his father, a World War II veteran, to see the WWII Memorial in the nation’s capital. Unfortunately, Hilt’s father passed away before its completion. In his honor, he vowed to get as many World War II veterans to D.C. before it was “too late.” 

          Over the past 12 years, these veterans excursions have been biannual – every May and October. They’re organized by volunteers who have had fathers that served in World War II. The trips are financed through donations, and there is no charge for veterans.  To date, this group has taken 1,894 veterans to D.C. to see the memorials. 

         Ross Township resident Jackie Cain has been assisting with these tours since 2007. “We have pickup points in Beaver, Greentree-Parkway Center, Ross Park Mall and Monroeville. We also stop at turnpike entrances between Monroeville and Breezewood for Veterans. We provide them with meals; have a nurse and volunteers on each bus and wheel chairs. Each veteran is given a WWII, Korean or Vietnam hat made in America,” said Cain. 

          Once the veterans reach D.C., they visit the World War II Memorial, where an honor guard greets the vets and a military chaplain recites a prayer. The Korean War Memorial and the Vietnam Memorial are included. They also go through Arlington National Cemetery for the “Changing of the Guard” and the Iwo Jima Memorial. 

         “On one of our trips, a gentleman got on the bus in Monroeville and saw an empty seat next to a vet, and when he started to ask if he could sit there, he stopped in mid-sentence. Then they both started to laugh. They went to high school together and enlisted together. After the war ended, they never saw each other until they came on our bus trip,” said Cain. 

        The next Veterans Bus Trip to Washington, D.C., will be held on Thursday, Oct. 18. To register, call Lydian Fisher at (724) 709-3614. Donations can be made to: Veterans Bus Trip at Wesbanco, 701 Corporation Street, Beaver, PA 15009. 

By Paula Green

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