Now in its second year, the Coastal Georgia Honor Flight program is ready to reach new heights. As much was felt this week, when officials with College of Coastal Georgia announced that several of its students and a professor will serve as guardians for the flight.
Being held May 7, the Honor Flight is an opportunity for World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War veterans to take part in a one-day fly-in to Washington D.C. to view the World War II Memorial, as well as the Korean War Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Marine Corps War Memorial and the Air Force Memorial.
While on their nearly 24-hour journey, veterans are accompanied by a family member or friend, and joined by medical staff and other volunteers to ensure the safety of their adventure.
Through the support of the College of Coastal Georgia Foundation, three College of Coastal Georgia students and one professor will be accompanying the 2016 Coastal Georgia Honor Flight as guardians on trip to the nation's capital.
Assistant professor of education Sarah Hartman, along with college juniors Justin Ray and Meghean May, and senior Elizabeth Guest, will serve as guardians, each paired up with a World War II, Korean War or Vietnam War veteran for the trip.
Excited does not do justice in describing how officials with the college feel about being able to contribute to the one-day flight of honor, said foundation chair Jack Kilgore.
"The College of Coastal Georgia is proud to support our Honor Flight and assist in sending these students to Washington, D.C.," Kilgore said. "The college was recently named among the top veteran friendly colleges nationally. (College president Greg) Aloia and the entire college staff have made the commitment to our veterans a priority, and this is just one more way that we can show our gratitude to those who have served."
For college student May, having the opportunity to accompany war heroes will prove to be a memorable and amazing experience, she said.
"It is a great privilege to be a part of the Honor Flight program with these brave men and women," May said. "These veterans have served our country, defended our freedom, and given us the opportunity to live in this great country. This is but a small offering for their greatest sacrifices."
The Honor Flight campaign is a national network, with more than 40 chapters set up throughout the country. The Coastal unit began last year, with approximately 50 veterans and their accompanying guardians heading to Washington D.C. as part of the one-day program.
Currently, the Honor Flight goal is to fly veteran heroes from Coastal Georgia — Camden, Glynn, McIntosh and surrounding counties as space is available — to the nation's capital so that they may reflect at their respective national memorials.
Top priority is given to the senior-most veterans — World War II and Korean War survivors — along with those veterans of other conflicts who may be terminally ill. The program is free to all veterans, said John Cornell, director of marketing and public relations for the college.
"We are so grateful to be able to honor our local heroes and show our gratitude for their willingness to serve and defend our freedom," Cornell said.
For more information about the Honor Flight, visit coastalgeorgiahonorflight.org.
PHOTO: Joining veterans on the second annual Coastal Georgia Honor Flight will be, from left, Honor Flight chair David Olender, College of Coastal Georgia assistant professor Sarah Hartman, college juniors Justin Ray and Meghean May, and senior Elizabeth Guest.