Honor Flight recognizes local’s efforts

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Posted on Monday, September 26, 2016 at 12:41 pm

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STAFF WRITER

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There are many cogs and gears that make the Honor Flight of Middle Tennessee possible but none as imperative as the contribution from one local man.

Daryl Doney, owner of Middle Tennessee Respiratory in Decherd has been offering assistance to the Middle Tennessee Flight program since its conception in 2008.

Doney identified a way to make a difference when he realized that this entire enterprise hinges on mobility. Doney’s business provided medical equipment ranging from oxygen tanks to wheelchairs and canes.

Since the qualifications to attend the tour for the veterans rests on the extent of their disabilities, a large portion of them require a wheelchair to cover the ground they do in Washington.

Doney donates these wheelchairs to the group completely free of charge and no strings attached. Honor Flight Chairman, Claude Morse said that one time a wheelchair was damaged during the tour and Doney would not even accept money to cover repair costs. Morse estimates Doney’s contribution these past eight years to be in the thousands of dollars.

Doney has been a lifelong Decherd resident. He said he wanted to do something for the community that has done so much for him.

When you think about it, whose served their community, and county, more than the men and women of our armed forces?

Doney said this was a way for him to use the resources at his disposal to help out.

Doney’s wife, Paula physically lent a helping hand, during the program’s nascent years when she volunteered as a guardian. Guardians attend the tour with the veterans and provided any needed help.

Morse said that guardians always return with a revived sense of compassion after being a part of such a special event.

The most recent Honor Flight trip took four World War II veterans, 18 Korean War veterans and 5 Vietnam veterans to Washington D.C. for tours to see war memorials and monuments dedicated to the brave men who served in those theaters.

Among the stops on the list were the memorials for each war represented by the group as well as Arlington Cemetery, and the Marine Corps and Air Force Memorials.

The veterans boarded a bus in Manchester Wednesday morning that took them to Nashville under a coalition convoy, escorted by Franklin County Sheriff’s deputies, Tennessee state troopers and a group of bikers.

In Nashville, the veterans were welcomed by roaring applause from people in the airport, Transportation Security Administration personnel and flight crews.

The group also toured Arlington Cemetery.

Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn. was among several officials who greeted the veterans in the nation’s capital, along with Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn, and Rep. Scott Desjarlais, R-Tenn.

Morse expressed his gratitude to those who have sponsored the event. “Tennessee Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution made a $15,000 donation.

“The turnout and the support are great,” Morse said. “When people see the veterans, they start clapping. At the memorials they come up and shake the vets’ hands.”

The trip was free for the veterans. Their airfare, meals and incidentals were covered by donations.

Guardians paid their own way, but everyone received a backpack donated from Tennova Healthcare-Harton.

According to Morse, since 2008, about 500 veterans from Middle Tennessee have been honored with this opportunity.

Middle Tennessee is not the only region to send honor flights. Morse explained that they usually bump into three or four other Honor Flight tours in Washington.

Memories of war can have lingering impacts. A lot of veterans choose not to discuss what they went through. Morse said that while on the trip many of the veterans share stories they have not told to anyone, and that it’s therapeutic for them.

“It’s amazing when you get these veterans together and they start talking about it,” Morse said. “A lot of these folk’s families don’t even know what the veterans experienced during the war.”

The Honor Flight of Middle Tennessee is a nonprofit corporation. It originally formed as the Southern Middle Tennessee Honor Flight in 2008 but he name was changed in 2013.

To learn more, visit the Honor Flight of Middle Tennessee’s Facebook page. If you would like to get involved, apply to serve as a guardian or just donate to the cause, contact Sgt. Maj. Larry Williams at (931) 924-3000, or email him at tennesseans2@blomand.net

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