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Pandemic cancels Honor Flights annual trip to war memorials in Washington, D.C.

Posted at 6:47 AM, Nov 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-26 00:33:51-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — A war heroes’ trip of a lifetime was canceled this year because of the pandemic. More than 50 valley veterans who were looking forward to visiting the war memorials in Washington, D.C., stayed home instead. But many veterans like Joseph Whetstone are holding out hope for next year.

Joseph served 20 years in the Navy during a crucial time in history.

“I was in Korea when the war ended and I was in Vietnam when the war ended,” Joseph said.

The many stories of struggle, perseverance and loss during war make the trip to D.C. so special to veterans.

But weeks before the trip was set to leave, the COVID-19 crisis forced shutdowns and stay-at-home orders across the country, ultimately putting a hold on Honor Flight Southern Nevada’s trip.

“This isn’t just a trip to see the memorials, this is more about honoring them and what their service gave to us,” said Belinda Morse.

Belinda is the president and CEO of Honor Flight Southern Nevada. She says the trip is sentimental and emotion for veterans.

“I’ve had them say I never cried so many happy tears from people thanking me. I think it’s overwhelming because they don’t feel like they’re remembered,” Belinda said.

But the older population is one of the most vulnerable. One veteran set for Honor Flight passed away this year and the future impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic remains unclear.

“We’re still 6 months away from a flight with that population and who knows what the impact of covid is going to have on them through winter. It’s tough,” Belinda said.

Honor Flight now has its sights set on April 2021 and are hoping their next scheduled flight can stay on track.

“When we come home and there is that gigantic crowd welcoming them home the tears in their eyes is proof enough that’s it’s an impact they will never forget,” Belinda said.

Joseph Whetstone is looking forward to his trip next year.

“They always told me once you see the memorial and you’re there, and you look at the results, you know seeing what’s actually in front of you, they say it’s pretty overwhelming, said Joseph. “It’s something i really look forward too.”

HOPE FOR OUR HEROES STORIES