Honor flight raising money for veterans

By Beau Ebenezer

May 15, 2013 Updated May 15, 2013 at 10:52 PM CDT

PEORIA Ill -- A group of Peoria veterans are preparing for one final mission.

It is to travel to Washington D.C. and see the memorials recognizing their efforts.

For dozens veterans, the trip has been made possible by a new non-profit organization in Peoria.

"There are 31,000 veterans that live in this Great Peoria area, and we hope to be able to take most of them on an Honor Flight to say thank you to them," said Greater Peoria Honor Flight President, Lesley Matuszak.

The first ever Greater Peoria Honor Flight will leave the General Wayne A. Downing Airport on June 4th.

The flight will take 80 veterans from World War Two, the Korean War, and Vietnam to the nation's capital to see various memorials.

One Peorian knows how important the trip is for veterans, with her late husband being one of the most highly noted war heroes from Peoria, General Wayne A. Downing.

"I know that if Wayne were here, he would not only be going, but he would want to be on every flight," said Kathy Downing. "He would be talking to them the entire time about what they did, what they were, and what war."

The June flight will cost $80,000.

However, organizers said the donations need to continue in order to get thousands more veterans to the capital in the coming years.

Greater Peoria will have three flights per year with the next one taking place in September.

For Peoria resident, Kathy Downing, having the flights come out of Peoria's airport, which is named after her late husband, is an honor all by itself.

"I think it really brings credit to Peoria and some appreciation," said Downing. :The fact that it is named after a General makes it all the more reason to have an honor flight out of here.

To be a hero for one of your local heroes you can make a donation at their website, greaterpeoriahonorflight.org.

You can also visit Junction City in Peoria on Saturday May 18th. Armed Services Day will features a Kids Zone and activities for veterans. All proceeds will benefit Peoria's Honor Flight. The event runs from 11 to 5.