When a Franklin County Honor Flight lifts off April 1 from St. Louis, all 25 participating veterans will fly free with funds raised over the past four years by the Gasconade Timing Association …
When a Franklin County Honor Flight lifts off April 1 from St. Louis, all 25 participating veterans will fly free with funds raised over the past four years by the Gasconade Timing Association (GTA).
Terry Sullentrup, past president of the Franklin County Honor Flight organization and one of its co-founders in 2007, said the automobile enthusiasts in the GTA funded an entire flight of 25 veterans for the often emotional day-long experience to visit their respective war memorials in Washington, D.C.
“They’re taking care of the all the veterans doing to D.C.,” said Sullentrup of the GTA’s flight he will serve as the group’s captain for when they leave St. Louis Lambert. “They’re sponsoring our flight out on April 1.”
Veterans participating in the April 1 flight were notified recently of the GTA’s funding of the trip by letter from Franklin County Honor Flight which noted, “This was done with the hard work of the GTA car club members and volunteers sponsoring fund raisers. In the past four years, they have accumulated enough money to pay for the Veterans’ portion of the April 1st flight.”
Sullentrup said costs for flights of 25 veterans can range from $24,000 to $28,000 depending on airline pricing. This Southwest flight is booked for $25,000 and GTA funding projects such as a car cruise and silent auction at White Mule Winery helped raise enough to add to Franklin County Honor Flight’s growing list of trips which now stands at 55.
Sullentrup said the group, which began in Union with “three guys” has flown more than 2,000 veterans from the region to their memorial sites. “It just took off from there,” he said of the group’s beginning in 2007.
Guardians, often family members or friends who serve as escorts for the veterans on flight day, pay their own airfare. GTA members participating in the flight have had an in-service meeting on how the process will play out on April 1, said Sullentrup.
Each “flight” consists of 25 veterans and their 25 accompanying guardians.