Borderland Honor Flight volunteers concerned about shutdown
Updated On: Jan 16 2014 02:16:09 PM CST
Honor Flight is a non-profit organization created to honor America's war veterans.
The mission is raising money to take aging World War II and Korean War vets to Washington, D.C. to see the memorials.
A flight of Borderland veterans is scheduled to depart El Paso for D.C. on Wednesday morning. But the government shutdown could keep them from getting to see the memorials.
"My father is a World War II vet, so in remembrance of him, I just want to give my all to it," said Jill Gomez, an Honor Flight volunteer from El Paso. "Most of these men came home from the war, they just went right to work. They didn't ask for anything and now our generation is saying, 'Let's say thank you to them.'"
Gomez's goal is to get more El Paso veterans involved with Honor Flight in the future.
"We have such a huge military base here and I know a lot of veterans return to El Paso," Gomez said. "We want next year for hundreds of veterans to go see their memorials."
When the veterans show at El Paso International Airport in the morning, they'll be hoping to see the memorials in Washington, D.C., on Thursday. But many of the memorials have been shut down by the shutdown.
"Since (Monday) night, we've been kind of concerned about the shutdown," Gomez said. "What was that gonna mean? Originally, we heard no one could enter the memorials. I'm kind of saddened by that."
However, with the help of lawmakers, an Honor Flight from Mississippi pushed back the barriers at the World War II memorial in D.C. on Tuesday. ABC-7 was able to put Gomez in touch with Rep. Beto O'Rourke's office, which is working on making sure the memorials are open for Borderland veterans on Thursday.
"We know it's going to happen for them," Gomez said, "because they deserve it."
Gomez said Borderland school children and churches have written letters to the veterans.
"On the way home, we're going to have one last mail call," she said. "Letters saying thank you and in some small way tell them about our appreciation because we have this country because of them and their courage."
Gomez said Borderland Honor Flight vets will get an escort to the airport from the New Mexico and Texas Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association. Those planning to see them off should be at the airport by 4:30 a.m. They are scheduled to return at 9:30 Friday night.
Those that would like to contribute or volunteer should contact honor flight at honorflight.org.
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