Guardians for Honor Flight Northeast Indiana call themselves the heroes helpers. “I think the best part of it is you’re with people who served our country,” said Ken Beery. The former U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel not only served his country but has also served fellow veterans as an Honor Flight guardian.
“We know our freedoms but sometimes we forget about how we have them and so it’s just the honor of being able to serve with fellow veterans if you will. They come before me. It’s just an honor.”
To be a guardian like Beery you don’t have to be a veteran. You must first sign up for the program and after passing eligibility requirements attend Guardian Training. Orientation meetings take place at the Holiday Inn on Paul Shaffer Drive near Memorial Coliseum. Guardians for flights 33 and 34 recently gathered to get information, learn their responsibilities and pick up t-shirts they’ll wear on the trip.
For many serving as a guardian is a once in a lifetime opportunity. But there are those who have done it more than once. “Like the two that I had,” said Beery. “Both of them lost their wives and so it was just encouraging to be with them and to let them know that others are thinking of them. Other people sign up as guardians not knowing who they’ll be the guardian for.”
“We could not do an Honor Flight without the guardians there to support and take care of the veterans,” said Dennis Covert. Covert served in Vietnam and has been a guardian nine times. He now serves as Honor Flight Northeast Indiana’s President making sure guardian guidelines are followed to keep veterans safe while they tour monuments and memorials that stand in their honor in our nation’s capital.
“You have to be physically fit. You have to be able to be on your feet for a long portion of the day walking and pushing a wheelchair up inclines and over curbs and so forth,” said Covert. “The guardian is the person who is responsible for the safety of their veteran from about 5 o’ clock in the morning until about 10 o clock at night. This sometimes is an emotional event for the veterans and the guardian is there to not only physically help the veterans but emotionally as well.”
“It’s been a wonderful opportunity for me to be a guardian,” smiled Beery. “They’ve done so much for us.”
Honor Flight 33 leaves out of Fort Wayne Wednesday, September 18th. WANE 15’s Alyssa Ivanson will be on that trip. WANE 15’s Terra Brantley will serve as a guardian on Honor Flight 34, Wednesday, October 16th, for her soon-to-be 80 year old father. He served as a Private First Class in the U.S. Army during the Cold War in the 1950’s. In November on Veteran’s Day, WANE 15 will salute our veterans with a special called Veterans Voices.