Five Billings-area organizations have stepped up with financial gifts for Big Sky Honor Flight and its efforts to salute Montana World War II veterans.
On Wednesday, representatives from the American Legion Post 119, the Billings Home Builders Association, Billings Health, American Legion 4 and Rehabilitation Center and the Adult Resource Alliance presented checks to Big Sky Honor Flight representatives totaling $8,000. The money will be used to ensure that more World War II veterans are able to get to Washington, D.C., to see their memorial.
There are 326 veterans waiting to make the trip. The third trip, scheduled for spring 2013, is fully funded. About $35,000 has been raised for the fourth flight.
“This is yet another example of how grass-roots fundraising can make a real difference,” said Bill Kennedy, vice president of the Big Sky Honor Flight committee. “Every bit helps, and we are deeply appreciative of these gifts.”
Big Sky Honor Flight’s mission is to recognize World War II veterans for their sacrifices by flying them to Washington, D.C. — at no cost to them — to see their memorial. Top priority is given to terminally ill veterans. About 190 veterans have already toured Washington as part of the Honor Flight program.
The trips include stops at significant memorials and landmarks in the Washington area, including Arlington National Cemetery. The highlight will be a stop at the National World War II Memorial, which was opened in 2004 as a tribute to the 16 million Americans who served during the war.
Fundraising continues as Big Sky Honor Flight aims to get another two or three flights scheduled from Montana during the next two years. About $152,000 is needed to get each flight off the ground. The committee hopes to have at least three flights this spring.
Kennedy said the holidays are a good time to remember World War II veterans. Using the Montana Endowment Tax Credit, donations can offer a tax break. The tax credit allows donors to pay less in Montana state income taxes when they give a qualifying planned gift to a qualified Montana charitable endowment.
The Montana Community Foundation Inc. is the fiscal sponsor of Big Sky Honor Flight.