This marks the fourth of our 2022 quarterly newsletters. This has been the first year ever that we have sent a regular quarterly update to our veterans and their families, guardians, volunteers, donors and our many other supporters. We now have 11,051 newsletter subscribers. All of these quarterly newsletters are also posted on our website (www.honorflightcmh.org). If you wish to be added or removed from our newsletter list, please let us know by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
As we conclude our first full year of flying veterans since 2019, we are pleased to report that Honor Flight Columbus has never been in a better operational, financial and community engagement position. Since we emerged from the COVID flight stoppage in August of 2021, we have conducted 17 flights that included 1,775 veterans and utilized 780 individuals as guardians, 420 of whom flew with us for the first time. These 2021 and 2022 flights were sponsored by 15 organizations, 5 of whom were first-time sponsors. Below is a list of the 2021-2022 flights and their respective sponsors.
Mission 103: August 19, 2021: All Life Foundation, sponsor
Mission 104: September 9, 2021: Vance Outdoors, sponsor
Mission 105: September 23, 2021: Westerville for Honor Flight, sponsor
Mission 106: September 23, 2021: Westerville for Honor Flight, sponsor
Mission 107: October 7, 2021: JP Morgan Chase Employees, sponsor
Mission 108: October 7, 2021: Grateful Americans, sponsor
Mission 109: October 21, 2021: Ragan/McNamara Families, sponsor
Mission 110: October 21, 2021: Ragan/McNamara Families, sponsor
Mission 111: November 4, 2021: Nationwide, sponsor
Mission 112: November 4, 2021: Columbus Regional Airport Authority, sponsor
Mission 113: April 14, 2022: Grateful Americans, sponsor
Mission 114: May 12, 2022: Equitable Mortgage & Grateful Americans, sponsor
Mission 115: June 9, 2022: Dublin Community Honor Flight, sponsor
Mission 116: September 8, 2022: David Jarvis Memorial, sponsor
Mission 117: October 6, 2022: Abbott Laboratories, sponsor
Mission 118: November 3, 2022: Battelle, sponsor
Mission 119: November 10, 2022: Nationwide, sponsor
2023 Flight Plans
At the time of this newsletter, we have 608 veterans on our waiting list. We have identified the following flight dates for 2023.
Mission 120: April 13, 2023
Mission 121: May 4, 2023
Mission 122: May 25, 2023
Mission 123: June 15, 2023
Mission 124: September 7, 2023
Mission 125: September 28, 2023
Mission 126: October 19, 2023
Mission 127: November 9, 2023
We are working with the airlines and our other transportation, food, park and facility partners to make arrangements for flights on these dates. We will confirm flight dates and sponsors in our first 2023 quarterly newsletter. In February 2023, we will begin booking veterans (in order of applications received) for these flights. As always, World War II, Korean War and qualified veterans with a terminal illness will be moved to the front of the line of the earliest flight for which they are ready, willing and able. Veteran applications, details regarding veteran eligibility and 2023 flight information are available on our website and/or by emailing email@example.com.
Year of Growth and Innovation
2022 presented an opportunity to revisit our operational policies and processes as we left COVID in our rear view mirror. We were able to use some of the learnings from the pandemic to enhance our operational efficiency and effectiveness. The chief principles guiding these changes were the health & welfare of our veterans and the enhancement of the veteran experience. Guardian training and practices were increasingly focused on reducing veteran anxiety both before and during the flight. To that end, we changed many of our preflight and in-flight processes to enhance the guardian/veteran relationship.
Additionally, we launched an important community engagement initiative – the HFC High School Guardian Program. In 2022, 16 high school students from 10 area high schools served as guardians on our flights. The high school students are selected by their respective schools and receive the same training as all other guardians. The guardian fee is waived for all eligible student guardians.
This initiative has provided a unique opportunity to educate the students and their school communities about the experiences and sacrifices of our nation’s senior veterans. We have received widespread and universally positive feedback about this initiative from students, parents, schools and our community generally. Most importantly, the veterans have consistently expressed their pleasure and gratitude for this chance to share their legacy of service with this next great generation.
We look forward to continuing this program in 2023 and beyond. If you are interested in having a high school participate, please contact Beth Johnson through the email/phone listed below.
Mission 119: L to R: Bob Horner (Executive Director), Jenna Tripp (New Hope Christian HS Student Guardian), Ellah Hood (New Hope Christian HS Student Guardian), Efthimia Tsitroulis (New Hope Christian HS Student Guardian), Carl Cunfer (Mission 119 Veteran), John Mathie (Mission 119 Veteran), Will Short (Bishop Watterson HS Student Guardian), Jimmy John Jacob (Hilliard Davidson HS Student Guardian), Maren McCallister (New Hope Christian HS Student Guardian), and Beth Johnson (Deputy Executive Director).
This fall Karen Melroy-Oiler began her full-time tenure as our new Director of Volunteer Operations. Karen and her husband, David, are long-time HFC volunteers. Updated information regarding volunteer opportunities is currently available online through the following link www.honorflightcmh.org/get-involved. The site includes application and required training information.
The end of the 2022 flying season also marked the retirement of Roger Dyer and Charles (Bing) Crosby. Roger and Bing have been long-time volunteers with Honor Flight Columbus. They have served as the leaders of our ground crew operations for many years. Among their duties has been the acquisition, maintenance, and deployment of our large wheelchair fleet. They faced relentless challenges during our 2021 flight season as we flew a series of double flights every two weeks. The success of 2021 would have been impossible without their tireless efforts and remarkable leadership.
As is always the case here at Honor Flight Columbus, we are truly fortunate to have a wealth of leadership successors. Rodney Ellis has been training with Roger and Bing this fall and will be taking up the ground operations responsibilities in 2023. You can read more about Roger, Bing and Rodney on our website in January 2023.
L to R: Bing Crosby, Karen Melroy-Oiler (Director of Volunteer Operations), and Roger Dyer
World War II Veterans
During the early spring of 2022, HFC launched an initiative to identify as many World War II veterans as possible who are ready, willing and able to take an Honor Flight. To date we have contacted 260 VFW and American Legion Posts and 725 senior residence facilities and churches across the State of Ohio. We continue to reach out to additional facilities by letter and through Executive Director site visits/presentations. We began our season by flying five World War II veterans – our largest number on a single flight in years! Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have a World War II or Korean veteran that you would like to suggest for an immediate booking and/or if you would like to request a site visit/presentation by the Executive Director.
In the event that a World War II or Korea veteran is located outside of Central Ohio, HFC will assist in any overnight stay needs. All World War II veterans are also invited to a pre-flight dinner the evening before their flight.
Don Harris (WWII veteran) with his guardian, support and HFC staff members at dinner at the 94th Aero Squadron the night before Mission 113 (April 14, 2022).
Reunion for 2022 Flights
The reunion for all 2022 flight veterans will be conducted in the first half of 2023. We will sending reunion details to all applicable veterans during the first quarter of 2023.
2021 flight participants enjoy the camaraderie at Motts Military Museum
Executive Director Handoff
As we informed you in our third quarter newsletter, on September 1, 2022, we were pleased to name Beth Johnson as our Deputy Executive Director. Beth began her time with Honor Flight Columbus as a volunteer running the guardian program in November 2016. She joined HFC’s staff in August 2019 as Administrative Office Assistant and Guardian Coordinator. At the end of the 2021 flight season, Beth was named Director of Office Management and Guardian Operations. During her tenure, Beth has played a central role in building 40 flights and has paired over 3,800 veterans with their guardians. In December 2021, Beth was given primary responsibility for directing day-to-day operations and flight preparation.
Since that time Beth and Bob have worked closely in planning for a leadership transition after the 2022 flight season. This was the organization’s first long-term succession plan and process and has ensured the continuation of exceptional leadership at Honor Flight Columbus. As described in the note below from the Honor Flight Columbus Board, we are all very pleased to report that this month Beth Johnson will officially take over all Executive Director responsibilities. Bob will remain as an operational and strategic consultant working closely with Beth and her team.
L to R: Larry Heiser, Dick Alexander, Beth Johnson, and Bill Alexander
Message From the Honor Flight Columbus Board
“We are writing to all our many valued partners to let you know about an important transition in our Honor Flight Columbus community. Bob Horner, our Executive Director, will be stepping down as Executive Director as of December 7, 2022. Bob will continue to serve our new Executive Director as a strategic and operational advisor.
The Board is deeply grateful for Bob’s dedication and commitment to Honor Flight Columbus and the veterans we serve. He has served in almost every conceivable role over the past 15 years, from volunteer to flight sponsor to Board Chair, and finally Executive Director, always with our veterans first in his mind. Bob’s leadership paved the way for the design and implementation of many improvements to our flight program. Most importantly, his vision and tireless work helped Honor Flight Columbus fly over 1,755 World War II, Korea and Vietnam veterans to visit their memorials in Washington, D.C. during his tenure as Executive Director.
The Board has begun a wide-ranging search for our new Executive Director. Beth Johnson, our Deputy Executive Director, will serve as the Interim Executive Director until a permanent successor is identified. Honor Flight Columbus is in excellent financial shape and has a superb and dedicated staff to ensure a seamless transition into the 2023 flight season. Planning is already ongoing for next year’s flights. We are confident that Honor Flight’s ability to Honor, Share, and Celebrate our veterans will continue to grow and improve.
As always, the Board is thankful for, and humbled by, the remarkable dedication that all of you show to our veterans. Quite simply, it would be impossible to fulfill the mission of Honor Flight Columbus without our donors, guardians and volunteers. With your partnership, we look forward to the continued growth and success of serving our senior veterans for many years to come.
In the event that you have any questions over the coming months, please direct them to our Interim Executive Director, Beth Johnson at email@example.com and 614-284-4987.”
- Jason Black, Board Chair
Happy Holidays to All
As we reach the end of another flying season, it is time to once again thank all those who make our success possible. The generosity of our flight sponsors and hundreds of donors represents one of the greatest outpourings of support anywhere in the national Honor Flight Network. The tireless work of our volunteers and volunteer leaders is unsurpassed. We are also truly fortunate to have the support of exceptional vendors and flight partners both in Columbus and Washington, D.C. Most importantly, of course, none of this could be, or would be possible without the awe-inspiring service and sacrifice of our nation’s senior veterans – heroes one and all.
Please join us in celebrating these wonderful people and all we have accomplished together. And may you and your families enjoy the very best that this holiday season and new year have to offer.
US Navy Memorial Store Director, Toni Doersom, and Bob Horner (HFC Executive Director)
Your Honor Flight Columbus Staff
Bob Horner, Executive Director:
Beth Johnson, Deputy Executive Director:
Megan Jacob, Director, Veterans Operations:
Karen Melroy-Oiler, Director, Volunteer Operations: