Woman donates $83K to Veterans Honor Flight of Southern Illinois

MARION, IL — Area veterans have a better chance of going on a trip to Washington, D.C. The Veterans Honor Flight of Southern Illinois is preparing for its fifth trip there on May 14. It’s  possible because of one woman’s generous donation.

She gave $83,000 for the next flight.

Navy Veteran Lonnie Tait is hoping to be on that next Veterans Honor Flight. He said the trip would give him an opportunity to bond with other servicemen and servicewomen.

“I fell like I have had some good stories. I would like to hear theirs.” said Tait.

He hasn’t been to Washington since he was a child. He said the trip would help him reflect on the history of this country.

“I want to go to Washington to see what the founding fathers started years and years ago,” said Tait.

Tait’s chances of getting on this flight or the next one have increased thanks to the donation from Mary Nell Chew. It allows the organization to move closer to planning its sixth flight.

“I have six veterans in my family. I just thought: What a way to honor them, and give approximately 90 people the opportunity to see the memorials, and make the trip to Washington that they probably never would have made otherwise,” said Chew.

Chew hopes the trip will be something veterans and their families will remember forever.

“I’m sure they reflect back on their service that they gave, whether it’s good or bad. War is not a wonderful thing. It brings back a lot of memories,” said Chew.

Tait said he hopes more people will step up and support veterans.

“If more people had that idea, we would be so much better in this country,” said Tait.

Hopefully, we will be welcoming Tait home from this once-in-a-lifetime trip in May. Chew plans to be on the fifth flight, so she can share the moment with the veterans.