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The Honor Flight Network recently announced the cancellation of all Honor Flights through 2020 due to the pandemic, disappointing thousands of veterans, but one Honor Flight chapter is planning a surprise for the veterans who are missing out on the trip of a lifetime. 

Honor Flight San Diego began collecting letters to veterans some time ago, planning to give them out during the trip as a tribute to letters from home received in the service. But now, HFSD has decided to pass out the letters this summer as part of mail call packages, which will be sent to the veterans’ homes, hopefully giving them something to look forward to in lieu of the trip, reported ABC 10.

“The reality for us is that when we start making the phone calls for them to go on that trip in May, there will be veterans that have passed away and there will be veterans that cannot travel,” said Holly Shaffner, Director of Public Relations for Honor Flight San Diego.

While disappointed, veterans say they understand the need for caution in the face of a pandemic. 

“At my age you really take a chance when you get into a crowd and an airplane particularly,” said Winona Ruth Gunther, a 100-year-old WWII veteran who planned to board the Honor Flight this year. 

“It’s the camaraderie that you have with people that have similar experiences that you look forward to,” she said.

Shaffner says that now, the biggest obstacle facing the HFSD Chapter is keeping up funding. The trip is 100% free for veterans and costs the organization about $500,000 for two trips from San Diego. According to Shaffner, right now the organization only has enough money raised for one trip in 2021, but would like to add extra trips next year if possible to make up for this year’s deficit. If you would like to donate, please click here.

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