Eyewitness News Brad Byrd spoke with Joe Miller about the 12 Honor Flight of Southern Indiana that has been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.
BB: Welcome to InDepth. Major universities canceling in-class teaching. March madness going fanless. And as we reported earlier today. The 12th honor flight of southern Indiana has been delayed. It had been scheduled to take off May 2nd. That will not happen. It’s heartbreaking for those vets who have been waiting a long time to head to Washington D.C. But we want to put this into perspective and to quote Hemingway as I like to do: “The sun also rises”.Joining me tonight is Joe Miller the president of the Honor Flight of Southern Indiana. And Joe we talked about concerns of Covid-19 last week at this table last Thursday. How did this come down today?
JM: Well, first of all, we received a message from Honor Flight Network that all flights through April 30th are going to be postponed. Ours is May 2nd so the board got together 5:30 this evening and made the decision to go ahead and do that.
BB: That directive came from the network came down. It also affects Honor Flight Bluegrass and it serves western Kentucky. Let’s take a look now at the past Honor Flights video we have. I was fortunate to be on the 5th flight in 2016. Are you getting in touch with the families and if so how are you doing that?
JM: That was a big part of our conversation at the meeting this evening. the bus caption we’ve got a couple of assistance bus captions if you wanna call them that. They are all going to touch base with all the veterans and the guardians to let them know that the flights been postponed. Once we find out what our options are as far as when it will be rescheduled we’re going to let them know at that time.
BB: And we’re seeing a lot in this video hugging, kissing, shaking of hands, the bulk of these veterans how old are they?
JM: The ones going on the flight we do have some who are under 65 which is kinda the magic number as far as age goes. But the majority are well over 65. In their 80’s we’ve got some that are even in their 90’s. If we’re going to air were going to air in the site of caution. make sure we keep the safety and the health of the veterans in mind. And make sure we don’t do anything to compromise that.
BB: Of course the elderly are very much at risk with this particular strain. Honor Flight 12, What will go into the decision-making process as to when you can get the wheels up.
JM: Unfortunately, there are just a lot of uncertainties right now. We just started communicating with airlines, American Airlines, who have very graciously offered to allow us to postpone and reschedule without any penalties or fines. We haven’t been able to find out what their schedule is. We also have to make arrangements with the buses in DC because they have limitations there. Police escorts while were in DC, there’s just a lot of moving parts to this wheel we need to make sure fall into place.
BB: This is so important to the veterans and their families. Some of them have been looking forward to this. Some of them have never even flown in an aircraft. Tell me about that.
JM: You know we’ve got all kinds, in fact, we had one that… (not audible) an airplane and to find a way to get him there. Eventually, too but that’s kind of a different thing there. You know a lot of veterans I always relate it to back to when they were 17, 18,19, years old going to war. They get on that plane and they’re like a bunch a 17-year-old again. All excited about the trip can’t wait to see the memorials. Some have seen them a lot them its the first time, maybe that they’ve been to DC much less seen the memorial.
BB: And on that next flight, let’s say if it can get rescheduled, those veterans will be able to go. But at the same time, if it is not rescheduled, there is a flight scheduled for early October. Would they get their seats in that aircraft?
JM: If we don’t find a way to fit one in between now and October 3rd, we’ll just make that progression and have these veterans who were scheduled for this flight go on that one.
BB: Alright, well thanks for joining us.
(This story was originally published on March 11, 2020)