Honor Flight of Southern New Mexico (HFSNM) is preparing for Mission 10 next month. The all-volunteer organization will take 27 WWII, Korean and Vietnam veterans to Washington, D.C. to see their war memorials at no cost to the vets. The Honor Flight Network is a national non-profit organization that works to honor veterans across the country with this experience. We thank and honor all veterans for their sacrifices. Volunteers with HFSNM and across the community have been working all year to make this Mission 10 a trip to remember for the veterans.
The veterans and their guardians will depart early morning on Thursday, October 5th and return to the El Paso International Airport on Saturday, October 7th. Veterans from across southern NM and El Paso will be participating in the tour.
During a recent pre-flight meeting to prepare the veterans and their guardians for the trip, Memorial Medical Center in Las Cruces again provided conference space and catered a delicious lunch. The entire HFSNM board expressed great appreciation for the strong support of community partners like MMC. CEO John Harris participated in the Flags of Our Heroes Flag Folding Ceremony after the meeting.
Brigadier General Eric Sanchez, White Sands Missile Range, honored the veterans with a special Honor Flight Oath and VFW representatives presented certificates to each of the veterans during the meeting. Afterwards, CSM Maddox of WSMR and the National Guard Honor Guard conducted a solemn Flags of Our Heroes Flag Folding Ceremony with four flags to honor veterans. The first flag folded was in memory of all veterans in southern New Mexico and El Paso, Texas who have passed away without the opportunity to visit the war memorials dedicated to honor their service and sacrifice. This flag will be the official memorial flag for HFSNM and will be taken on all future mission flights. The second flag was folded and presented in honor of Ernesto Santoscoy, WWII veteran. His brothers Manuel and Louis will be participating in Mission 10 this year. The third flag was folded in honor of First Sergeant Timothy W. Heidtman, Sr., a Vietnam War veteran. The fourth flag, with 48 stars, was folded in honor of Private Henry Heidtman, a WWI veteran who was never afforded military honors at his funeral.
HFSNM is privileged this year to have joined forces with the U.S. Honor Flag. Representatives will bring this special flag to the ELP airport on departure day, October 5th. They will give a brief presentation about it and provide a full color guard to hold the flag as HFSNM and the veterans pass by to TSA check-in. The U.S. Honor Flag will then be taken out to its special vehicle, Honor One on the tarmac and illuminated to honor our veterans again as they take off. HFSNM is the first Honor Flight to have the flag incorporated into our tour. The flag is constantly on the move, traveling the country to honor military and law enforcement personnel and officers.
The Honor Flight Network is a non-profit organization originally created to honor America’s WWII veterans. HFSNM has evolved to include Korean War veterans; Vietnam veterans are also included as room permits. During the Honor Flight missions, veterans are escorted, at no cost to them, to Washington, D.C. to be honored at their memorials. The Honor Flight network encompasses 131 hubs in 45 states. In 2016 the network flew a total of 20,558 veterans back to Washington D.C. at absolutely no cost to them. 27,272 veterans are on the waiting list across the country. HFSNM thanks and honors all veterans for their sacrifices.