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Flights to honor

The April 2024 Rocky Mountain Honor Flight veterans and guardians get ready to leave Denver International Airport on April 18 and make the trip to Washington, D.C.

Service. Honor. Sacrifice. Emotions swell when thinking about veterans and all they have given for our freedom. A local nonprofit, Rocky Mountain Honor Flight (RMHF), has been taking vets to Washington, D.C. since 2007 to provide a chance to see firsthand the memorials that recognize their service. It is a full-circle moment for those who fought for our country and are still here to remember.

Flights take off four times each year in April, May, September and October, with 30 veterans plus 24 guardians. The travel takes place when the weather is not too hot and not too cold.

RMHF is a member of the national Honor Flight network, which started in 2005, but it runs completely independently. Joe Winslow, the current president of RMHF, attributes much of its success to Mary Haddon who “lived it” through her leadership, starting in 2008.

Mary, who was passionate beyond measure, has since passed away. Others, like Joe, who first took a flight as his father-in-law’s guardian years ago, have continued in her footsteps. Joe has since completed 32 honor flights.

Planning starts months in advance. About a week prior to a trip, the group attends a luncheon where introductions and new friendships begin. On departure day, the group is welcomed into the first nine rows of an early morning Southwest Airlines plane bound for Baltimore.

Once in Washington, D.C., a full 48-hour schedule commences. Buses take the group to see and remember. The tour includes the World War II Memorial, Navy Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Korean War Memorial, Marine Corps Memorial and more, as well as a visit to Arlington National Cemetery. It is an incredibly special and emotion-filled time for all.

It is not uncommon for groups of school students to visit with the veterans. For those volunteers and guardians who help make the trips a reality, it is quite a sight. “It is a great honor for all of us,” shared Joe.

There is much more to the journey – both before, during and after – that adds palpable and heartwarming moments. Sharing it here would give away too much for those yet to take part. In the end, it is gratitude that shines abundantly.

RMHF operates through donations. Each trip costs about $65,000. Guardians pay personally, but veterans are covered 100%. Upcoming flights are scheduled for September 5-7 and October 3-5. The 2025 flight dates will be announced on the RMHF website as they become available.

Veterans are encouraged to apply to take a flight. Special priority is given to World War II and Korean War veterans, due to age, as well as those with significant medical conditions. Every effort is made to accommodate everyone interested in the trip, within a year or so.

More information about applications, including opportunities to volunteer, is available at Donations can be made through the red “Donate Now” button on the website.


American Academy students thanked veterans from the Rocky Mountain Honor Flight during a recent visit to Arlington National Cemetery.


 By Elean Gersack; photos courtesy of Joe Winslow



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