Popular network TV show casts national spotlight on Space Coast Honor Flight’s efforts to honor senior war heroes


Last night, viewers of CBS-TV’s top-rated primetime drama, NCIS, got a glimpse of what Space Coast Honor Flight lives and breathes every day. Bill Welser, President of Space Coast Honor Flight, and Team have spent the past seven years and countless thousands of volunteer hours applauding the service of our senior Veterans with all-expense-paid trips to Washington, D.C., to visit the national memorials built in their honor. It was a trip similar to one Welser has taken 40 times that set the backdrop for last night’s NCIS episode.

“Happy to report we’ve never had the type of whodunit drama surrounding any of our trips that kept television audiences on the edge of their seats last night,” said Welser. “But beyond the fictional storyline, it was very gratifying to see such a realistic portrayal of the emotional catharsis and pride our Veterans experience when visiting their national memorials with Space Coast Honor Flight.”

“My honor flight trip to DC was one of the best days of my life,” said Pat Smith, a World War II, Coast Guard Veteran from Melbourne who traveled with Space Coast Honor Flight on the recent March trip. “I’ve never thought of myself as a hero, but after being greeted by hundreds of people showing their gratitude and thanking us for our service, I felt very extra special!

Not coincidently, the NCIS writer who created last night’s episode, Gina Lucita Monreal, has been quoted as saying she was prompted to do so based on her own grandfather-in-law’s Honor Flight experience, and the renewed sense of pride and purpose with which he returned home after his day of honor in Washington, D.C.

According to Welser, Space Coast Honor Flight has seven total flights scheduled for 2017, the first of which departed on Saturday, 18 March. Additional flights are planned for 22 April, 20 May, 24 June, 19 August, 9 September, and 14 October 2017. Each honor flight begins with an early morning departure from Wickham Park Senior Center in preparation for a full day of recognition and reminiscing in our nation’s capital. During what many have called “the day of a lifetime,” Veterans have the opportunity to reflect on their service with their comrades at the Air Force Memorial; World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War memorials; the Women in Military Service for America Memorial; The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery; and the Marine Corps Iwo Jima Memorial. The day of recognition concludes back at Wickham Park Senior Center with a heart-warming “Welcome Home Celebration” highlighted by the Patrick AFB Honor Guard saber arch testimonial.

Since its inception in 2010, Space Coast Honor Flight has flown 1,050 World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War Veterans on an all-expense-paid, once-in-a-lifetime day of recognition, thanks, and inspiration. At the beginning of its 2017 flight season, the 501(c)(3) non-profit had applications for over 200 Veterans awaiting their long-overdue day of honor.

Anyone wanting to learn more about Space Coast Honor Flight’s mission can visit spacecoasthonorflight.org or call 888-750-2522.

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