Charleston’s final Honor Flight of WWII veterans to Washington is Sept. 12

Charleston-area World War II veterans are met by well-wishers in Washington during a past Honor Flight.

Another signal the World War II generation is fast disappearing comes next Saturday when the final Honor Flight for veterans from Charleston to Washington takes off.

It will be the last of eight flights out of Charleston the group has sponsored.

“It’s really run its course,” said Honor Flight Lowcountry Director Bob Crawford, pointing to the success of getting as many World War II men as they could find to Washington to see their monuments and memorials.

Crawford said organizers believe the group was able to attract most everyone in the region healthy enough to make the trip.

Of the 110 veterans who are going on the Sept. 12 flight, only about 30 are from the World War II era. The rest are primarily veterans of the Korean War.

“It’s been a wonderfully positive program,” Crawford said. This last flight was added after the previous trip was supposed to be the final trip and there was still a limited demand.

The Honor Flight concept dates to May 2005 when six small planes left Springfield, Ohio, carrying World War II veterans to the then-recently opened World War II Monument in Washington. The idea soon went national, with chapters opening up around the country, including in South Carolina.

Charleston’s chapter began in 2009. Since then, the previous seven flights have taken more than 600 World War II and Korean War veterans to Washington. A key feature of the program is that vets travel for free, with the costs covered by donations. Guardians and escorts also take part.

Age and health conditions have caught up with most all service members from World War II, the youngest of whom are in their late 80s.

The trip will be on a chartered 150-passenger US Airways plane flying non-stop from Charleston to Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington. The group will visit the World War II Memorial, Korean Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, Lincoln Memorial and the Marine Corps War Memorial depicting the flag-raising at Iwo Jima. It is a one-day trip, leaving in the morning and returning that night.

There are no extra seats available on the plane, so Crawford said additional veterans and requests cannot be accommodated.

After the full-day in Washington, the plane will return to Charleston around 7 p.m. Anyone wishing to greet the group can meet them at the airport. Space is limited because of ongoing construction.

The group’s website is still available at honorflightlowcountry.com.

Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551.