Villages Honor Flight remembers founder at flag retirement ceremony

Miss Liberty and Mark Erdich of Honor Flight.

The founder of Villages Honor Flight was remembered Thursday in a ceremony.

“Mark Erdrich was the most incredible person I have met.  He has changed my life,” said Jim Dow, vice chairman of the Villages Honor Flight.  “When he put his mind to something, nothing would get in his way.”

Erdrich, who passed away, Feb. 12, was memorialized by some 90 colleagues, veterans and guests during a flag retirement ceremony and luncheon at the Moose Family Lodge, in Leesburg.

“We retire the flag to honor Mark’s memory,” said Jean Suelter, commander of the American Legion Post 347 Honor Guard.  “We raise a new flag to honor his legacy as a visionary for veterans.”

Honor Guard members Leslie Yeates, Frank Formas, and Larry Lubben perform the Flag Exchange.

Erdrich founded Villages Honor Flight six years ago.  Thanks to his determination and leadership, the Villages-based group’s fund raising efforts have enabled 1,000 veterans and their guardians to fly to Washington, D.C. for an all-day tour of the city and visit the World War II Memorial.

“We will sponsor another trip on April 4 for 40 vets and their escorts – not only for those living in The Villages but from the surrounding five counties,” continued Dow. 

Members of Villages Honor Flight Board, Liza Walters, Jim Dow, and Barb Cooksey, from left.