MADISON COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — Eastern Kentucky University's Delta Zeta chapter sponsored three veterans for an Honor Flight with Honor Flight Kentucky on Veterans Day.
Honor Flight Kentucky is a part of a national charity in 42 states focused on taking World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam War veterans to Washington D.C. for a all-expenses paid day-trip to see the memorials dedicated to their service.
The EKU sorority has partnered with Honor Flight Kentucky for several years volunteering during the day of the honor flights and also raising money to sponsor veterans' trips.
In past years, Delta Zeta hosted 5K runs on EKU's campus to raise funds but due to the pandemic, they pivoted and created a virtual 5K raising more than $3,000 for Honor Flight Kentucky.
"You don't realize it when you're raising the money, but when you got to get to see them and clap for them as they're walking through security and serve them breakfast and listen to their stories and how excited they are -- a lot of them," said Taylor White, president of Delta Zeta at EKU. "Most of them haven't been to DC to see those memorials before so it's very cool to get to honor them in that way."
Jeff Masters and his brother Kevin were two of the founding board members of the Kentucky chapter of Honor Flight in the Bluegrass. He said the flights are about more than honoring the veterans.
"It is a trip of honor but it's very much a trip of healing," Jeff said. "There's a lot of stuff laid down up there and a lot of old wounds a lot of old baggage that they get rid of When they get to the airport in the morning. A lot of these guys haven't flown for 50, 60, 70 years. And it's really nice to have these young ladies there just to kind of calm the nerves. Get them to talk, you know, draw some stories out of them. And that gets them to interact with their veteran buddies, as well."
His brother Kevin echoed his sentiments and explained how Honor Flights are often therapeutic after decades.
"We've had them express that they're finally over it. Finally got the 'welcome home' that they always felt like they had missed," he said. "A lot of these guys were brought home under cover of darkness. Flown in and said just go home can't go through the main gates, go out the back. And that's, that's really horrible for men and women that that sacrifice so much for us."
The brothers explained the partnership with the Delta Zeta women has become a friendship and one that give them hope for how veterans will be honored for decades to come.
"It does my heart good. It really does law gives you a lot of faith in what's coming behind us," Jeff said.
Honor Flight Kentucky usually sends veterans into the air throughout the year but with the pandemic, they have had to pause with the next dates tentative for 2021.
"We have fights scheduled for the spring, but it's just kind of waiting to see what takes place," Kevin said. "We are dealing with the most vulnerable part of the segment of our population so veteran safety always comes first."
Click here to learn more about how to get involved or make a donation.