Villages Honor Flight prepares to take 800th veteran to Washington D.C.

Villages Honor Flight has announced that with Mission #31, on Wednesday, Nov. 2, they will include their 800th veteran amongst the 40 veterans scheduled to make this trip, which will be the last flight of 2016. Flights will resume in spring 2017.

There will be 40 veterans on the flight, nine from World War II, 30 from the Korean War and one from the Vietnam War. Three of the Korean War veterans also served in Vietnam. They come from all branches of the Armed Forces, with the majority rom the Army.  One of the Army veterans served in the Royal Canadian Army. The oldest veteran scheduled to fly is age 90.

Lou Branch as a midshipman.
Lou Branch as a midshipman.

Flight Director Joe Hambright will be making his 25th flight, with 21 of those as Flight Director or Mission Executive Officer.

Hambright said this flight will be named the Lou Branch Memorial Flight, honoring the long-time Villages WW2 History Club member.  He served during World War II in the Army Air Corps, the Navy and the Air Force. He died in an auto crash in 2015. You can read more about Lou Branch HERE

The Villages WW2 History Club was given “naming rights” for this mission, due to their long time significant financial support of Honor Flight.  The WW2 History Club will have their Club President, Don Goldstein, as a special guest on this flight.  Goldstein, a retired Lt. Colonel with 22 years with the Air Force,  is considered the pre-eminent historian on Pearl Harbor and the Pacific Theater and overall a world-renowned historian on World War II.  He has authored more than 50 articles and 20 books and has received two Peabody awards for his contributions to television specials.

The veterans and their guardians expect to return to American Legion Post 347 at approximately 11:45 on Wednesday, Nov. 2, escorted by a large motorcycle convey from The Villages Nomads Motorcycle Club.  Area residents are encouraged to turn out to give them a rousing homecoming. Entertainment will begin at 9:45 p.m. and will include Ralph DiNome and the Flashback Band, The Villages Twirlers, Clown Alley #179 and The Villages Cheerleaders.