“We've raised over $1 million. We've already sent over 1100 World War II veterans on Honor Flights,” said Herb Duncan, an Honor Flight volunteer out of Wichita who is himself a Vietnam Veteran.
That very track record is why local organizers are so upset the national Honor Flight Network has asked the Great Bend group to stop using the network's name and removed them as an organizational and fund raising hub for the program.
“With a flip of a switch, they're going to throw this out the window. And for what? What's the purpose?,” Duncan wondered.
KWCH contacted Jim McLaughlin, Chairman of the national Honor Flight Network's Board. He would only confirm that the national board had disaffiliated with the Central Prairie Honor Flight organization and that a new group would be taking over their duties in Central Kansas. He refused to discuss the reasoning behind the board's decision.
Mark VanCampen, head of the new hub called Honor Flight Kansas, admits his organization is just getting set up and has not yet begun to accept donations. Even its website remains incomplete.
In the long run, volunteers with Central Prairie say it's all about the veterans. And they’re not going to stop working to make sure those last 350 on the list can make the trip to D.C.. It will cost almost $230,000 to send them.
“Our mission is to get the veterans toWashington, D.C., and we don't care who they go with,” said LaVeta Miller, organizer and head of operations with Central Prairie Honor Flight.
Volunteers say despite the current organizational mess they plan raise enough money to send all 350 remaining veterans on an honor flight by the end of this year.
They just ask that any donations, no matter which of the two groups their given, be specifically designated for the use of 'Kansas Veterans' to ensure the money stays in-state.Honor Flight issues in Great Bend