“It took 60 years to get it built, so there’s a lot of them that will never see it,” he said. “Out of 16 million veterans there’s less than a million left. We’re losing them at about 700 a day, so it’s critical we get them out there as soon as we can.”
Not only do veterans receive a hero’s welcome, they also get a care package and a picture of the group at the memorial.
Veterans are responding to the opportunity, as the next Honor Flight is already full.
“We’re looking for WWII veterans (for the flights later this year),” Schauwecker said. “We probably will eventually start taking Korean vets as well, but we want to make sure (enough WW II vets go). The average age on this flight is 90 years old and probably the youngest are 86. Those are the guys that lied about their age to get in at 16 or 17.”
When the Indy Honor Flight first started, Schauwecker said they held it at the National Guard Armory, located at 3912 W. Minnesota St., but quickly outgrew that venue.
“After the second trip, we had so many people … that we packed that place,” he said. “We moved it over and the one we had here in the fall, we had about 2,500 people here to welcome them back.”
Unfortunately, there’s a chance the event might outgrow the airport, which speaks to how much Hoosier respect their veterans.
“One of our fears is we’re going to outgrow this place,” he said. “It’s a good thing and it’s a bad thing.”
Schauwecker said the airport has been great to work with.
“The airport has rolled out the carpet to us and treated us very well,” he said. “I think they’re excited to have us here.”
Schauwecker said the Indy Honor Flight is still looking for veterans and guardians for the flights later this year.
For more information, visit the website www.indyhonorflight.com or call 559-1600.