Senior Voice -

By Mike Dryden USAR Ret
Senior Voice Correspondent 

Supporting the Last Frontier Honor Flight

Alaska Older Veterans Report

 


For those of you not familiar with the Honor Flight program, it’s a national non-profit organization dedicated to providing World War ll and Korean War veterans an opportunity to travel to Washington DC to visit the nation’s capital and the various war memorials at no cost to the veteran. Sixty years after the end of World War ll, the country finally built a World War ll memorial after many of the “Greatest Generation” had passed away. We are losing World War ll veterans at the rate of one every 90 seconds.

A seat on one of these all expense paid flights to Washington may be the only time many of this brave generation may ever have to experience the belated tribute to them from a grateful nation.

Our Alaska chapter, The Last Frontier Honor Flight, which also includes members of the Alaska Territorial Guard, will be traveling again in October. Alaska Airlines has been a big contributor to the cause by donating free seats to the veterans with local merchants and individuals’ donations covering the food and lodging expenses. Since this worthy cause is a private sector operation, success depends on generous donations from the public. No amount is too small to help ensure the next flight in October is fully funded. Donations may be mailed to:

The Last Frontier Honor Flight

P.O.Box 520116

Big Lake, AK 99652-0116

Just as important as donating is if you know anybody that served in World War ll, Korea or in the Territorial Guard and you would like to see them travel to Washington, you can nominate them by going to The Last Frontier Honor Flight website, http://www.tlfhonorflight.org ,or call toll free (877) 560-8542. From the website you can download all the forms needed to sponsor a veteran or donate to the cause.

Alaska played one of the largest roles of any of state or territory on the continent in the Second World War. The pre-war program called Lend-Lease, which provided much needed war materials to Russia (also Britain and China), needed a road from the contiguous U.S. to Alaska so planes that were being ferried from the states to Russia could be refueled. Alaska Command and over 12,000 men from the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers embarked on one the most ambitious road projects of the war. The 1,500 mile Alaska Highway (now known as the ALCAN) was started in early spring of 1942 and finished the same year.

Alaska was the only part of the continental U.S. occupied by a foreign country since the War of 1812. The Japanese invasion of Kiska Island and Attu Island in the Aleutians (which most historians say was a diversion for the Midway campaign) highlighted Alaska’s importance to the nation. The Aleutian Islands Campaign saw Japanese bomb raids on Dutch Harbor and Unalaska Island and occupation of Kiska and Attu for a little more than a year.

I urge those of you that served in World War ll and/or Korea, or if you have a loved one from the “greatest generation,” to get behind The Last Frontier Honor Flight fund drive to pay for these worthy veterans to travel to Washington this fall. Let’s show them our thanks for preserving this great nation and for their sacrifices, which are beyond our comprehension.

Mike Dryden is a retired Army Major and current board member of Older Persons Action Group, Inc.

 
 

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