FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Honor Flight of Northeast Indiana (HFNEI) is sending 102 Purple Heart Veterans to D.C., and you can be a part of the celebration.

The festivities kicked off Sunday, August 6 with a special banquet with keynote speaker retired Col. Gregory Gadson.

On Monday, August 7, which happens to be National Purple Heart Day, 102 Purple Heart Veterans embark on their one-day trip to D.C.

Map for SEND-OFF location.

The community can attend the send-off, and the buses carrying the veterans and guests will travel to the airport. Individuals are encouraged to send them off around 4:00 a.m. Monday at N. Clinton St. near the M.L.K Jr. Bridge.

At the end of the day, when the veterans make it home, there will be a special welcome home ceremony. This will be held at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum (4000 Parnell Ave.), hosted by WOWO’s Pat Miller. Those who wish to attend should be at the Coliseum around 8:00 p.m. Monday. Parking will be free.

HFNEI asks for NO ONE to head to Fort Wayne International Airport, veterans will be getting on the plane from the tarmac.

WOWO’s Radiothon raises money for Penny Pitch, in 2022 it was for NFNEI

This historic trip was made possible by Federated Media’s WOWO Radio. HFNEI was selected as the 75th Annual Penny Pitch recipient. This specially funded trip has been paid for by community donations to Penny Pitch, totaling over $207,000.

HFNEI currently has 102 Purple Heart recipient veterans from Korea through recent conflicts on the list for this flight.  These Veterans were wounded during their military service and some, multiple times over.  These 102 Purple Heart recipient veterans have a total of over 120 Purple Heart awards, over 45 Bronze Stars, Over 20 Silver Stars, and the list of awards for their sacrifices keeps going.

There have been some additional logistics to work out for this trip, but everyone involved has gone above and beyond to make this trip special.  Normally we take 85 Veterans, but we have over 100 Veterans on this trip!  Many Veterans have voluntarily opted not to take a local guardian to allow us to take additional Veterans on this trip.  We will be providing a volunteer guardian from DC for these Veterans.  Not only did these Veterans give more during their service – but they continue to give back by supporting their fellow Purple Heart Comrades today.

Cathy Berkshire, President of Honor Flight of Northeast Indiana