FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) — Dennis Covert will be making his 10th trip aboard an Honor Flight next week. He goes as a companion for World War II veterans from northeast Indiana who visit the WWII Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Veterans ride for free. Companions, formally known as guardians, pay $400 each to help cover flight expenses. Corporate and individual donors, of which Covert is one, also pitch in.
Covert decided to pay more than his share this time. Much more. He and his wife, Charline, are paying everybody’s shares.
The Fort Wayne residents are contributing $60,000, the total cost for chartering a jet for 150 people plus ground transportation and meals in the nation’s capital, The Journal Gazette reported.
“He just found it in his heart to want to support the entire flight,” said Camille Garrison, a member of the Honor Flight Northeast Indiana board of directors. “We have people make donations . but never to this magnitude.”
Covert, 66, is a financial adviser for Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc., where he has worked for four decades. He is Navy combat veteran of the Vietnam War, and he joined the Honor Flight board this summer.
“Both Charline and I feel it is important that we honor our veterans, and I think Honor Flight Northeast Indiana does a terrific job with this,” he said in a telephone interview.
“If you want to make a difference, I guess you just have to make a decision that you are going to do something, and we decided this is what we wanted to do,” he said.
Covert said picking up the tab for the next flight will increase his donations to Huntertown-based Honor Flight Northeast Indiana to more than $100,000.
The national Honor Flight program took wing in 2005 with flights from Springfield, Ohio, that carried veterans to see the World War II Memorial at the National Mall. The nonprofit network has grown to more than 140 hubs, including three in Indiana.
The Oct. 1 journey for Honor Flight Northeast Indiana will be its 14th since May 2009. The group of 70 veterans, 70 guardians and 10 board members will meet for breakfast, provided by American Legion Post 241, at 6 a.m. at the Air National Guard’s 122nd Fighter Wing. They will depart for Washington about 8:30 a.m. and return to Fort Wayne International Airport about 9:30 p.m.
Forty of the veterans are older than 90, and Garrison said two are believed to be the oldest of more than 900 flown by Honor Flight Northeast Indiana: Fred Edgell of Decatur and Duane Cable of Mishawaka, each of whom is 99.
For the first time, Honor Flight Northeast Indiana will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. The board of directors selected Covert to escort three veterans in the ceremony, with Covert abstaining from the vote.
“I would have voted against it,” he said.
But Covert accepted the assignment, which he calls “an honor for me.”
“Dennis has always been very involved in the Honor Flights,” Garrison said, adding that “he has been very generous financially” even before his and his wife’s $60,000 gift.
Information from: The Journal Gazette, http://www.journalgazette.net
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