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November 18, 2012

Everybody wants my yarn

Tonawanda News — In last week’s column, a query came from Bill Wittkowsky about the WWII veterans who travel to Washington, D.C. on a one-day free trip to visit the veterans’ monuments.

Senator George Maziarz called to tell about his involvement in WNY Heroes Flight. The unfortunate part of this story is that Bill died this week before he had a chance to learn the answer.

In Bill’s memory and for any WWII veterans interested in the organization, here’s the information:

The senator said he was so impressed with the Honor Flight organization after attending one of their flights as a guardian that he wanted to do something to help, forming a group to take WWII veterans to Washington based on the same principal at the Honor Flight.

“There are approximately 56 spots per trip and we try to make sure they are divided equally so each veteran has a guardian assigned to them for the day,” the senator explained.

Maziarz’s office did outreach to both Niagara and Orleans counties’ veterans offices. For the October trip, 25 veterans participated. Each is provided a boxed lunch and a fancy dinner before the flight back to Buffalo.

The 2012 trip was completely paid for through generous donations from Walmart Foundation and Mulvey Construction. Also the Niagara USA Chamber of Commerce joined to make the event possible. There is no cost to the guardians who volunteer to accompany a veteran.

“We are hoping to do another trip in the spring of 2013. If you know of anyone looking to fill out an application to be added to the list, call my office at 434-0680 or email Maziarz@nysenate.gov,” he said.

Jack Zobrist sent in a letter about Honor Flight Buffalo Inc. which provides the same service to WWII veterans several times a year.

“It was my privilege to be on a flight in June,” Jack wrote. “My grandson, who had never been to Washington offered to go as my escort. It was a great experience from beginning to end. ... At the (Buffalo) airport at 11 p.m., the Clarence Rotary presented Honor Flight Buffalo with a check fo $10,000.” He added that the Girls Scouts were at the Mall in Washington that day and one asked to take a photo of the back of his T-shirt, which read: “If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you can read this in English, thank a WWII veteran.”

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