Posted by Samuel Azinger on Feb 16, 2019
“I have a passion for honoring our veterans. My work is in tribute to my late father Robert Akright, who was a WWII veteran and charter member of the building of the WWII Memorial in Washington DC.” -Amy Luft
Much like the commitment of our war heroes, a little snowfall (something like 12"-18") wasn't going to stop Amy Luft from speaking to a few dedicated Rotarians attending Tuesday's meeting, and to everyone's delight, the story of the Honor Flight and the stories about the Honor Flight Magic were inspirational, breathtaking, and tear jerking. But before we get into that, I'd like to take an opportunity to thank our veterans for their service to our country, specifically our Rotarian veterans, Sandy Custer, Dan Gannon, Herb Hillman, Bob Jacobs, Karle Naggs, Jim Ott, Stan Smith, Jack Wiese, and George Witte. Thank you gentlemen for your service.  
Amy Luft is the Community Liaison for Horizon Home Care and Hospice and on the Board of Directors for Stars and Stripes Honor Flight. Stars and Stripes Honor Flight Inc. was started in 2008 by Joe Dean and a merry band of volunteers, after Dean had seen a brief national news segment. Joe recalls thinking, “someone should do this in Wisconsin.” The next day Dean, son of a WWII Hero (David Dean, US Navy), woke up with one overwhelming consideration of who that person should be, “Oh man, I should do this in Wisconsin!” Within days, the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight wheels were in motion. Recruiting the busiest people he knew, Dean asked each potential board member three questions: “Why not here?” “Why not us?” “Why not now?” The Stars and Stripes Honor Flight Board of Directors became a reality and the board booked the first flight at their second meeting, with a grand total of $250.00 in the bank. The Stars and Stripes Honor Flight story was told to one person or one small group at a time, and grew from tiny fundraisers to partnerships with many local organizations and individuals, who have all stepped forward to ensure that our WWII and Korean War Veterans feel appreciated. To date, Stars and Stripes Honor Flight has flown over 4,500 veterans. Our community has been phenomenal in its support, and we are forever grateful.
The Stars and Stripes Honor Flight has grown to take so many of our veterans, who otherwise never would have been able, to see the memorials built in their honor in Washington D.C.. The sacrifices made by these men and women to provide us with the freedom that we know and love are deserving of as much appreciation as can be bestowed upon them. To hear the stories of certain veterans and what going on the Honor Flight meant to them was truly inspirational, and we cannot be more grateful to Amy for speaking to the club and sharing some of the stories, and those who have made the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight a reality.
Amy encouraged us to say thank you to our vets when we see them, and to encourage everyone to apply to go on an Honor Flight. Just last year, the Honor Flight was opened to Vietnam War veterans as well, causing a list of applicants to grow to a level seen only when the organization first began. The commitment to see every one of the vets who have applied to get on an Honor Flight still remains. Anyone is encouraged to donate at or to attend a Homecoming Event at General Mitchell International Airport to welcome our veterans home from their Honor Flight.