By Adam Black
The Ashland Beacon
Anticipation is growing for Spokeswoman Sheila Fraley and Marathon Petroleum workers as they gear up for a very special flight to Washington D.C. in April.
The Honor Flight Kentucky will take 70 veterans of World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War to the nation’s capital along with family members with Marathon sponsoring each person.
“We are getting really excited to go and spend the day with these men and women,” Fraley said. “My husband and I will be guardians for twins who served in Vietnam.”
Throughout the daylong event, veterans will get the chance to view some of the most historic landmarks in Washington D.C. and memorials and then return home to a party of friends and family.
“We will have a bus of employees that we are chartering to be there when they return home for the celebration that evening,” Fraley said.
Marathon’s Catlettsburg Refinery workers and other Marathon facilities have raised more than $35,000 through donations and fundraisers for the trip including cookouts and bake sales.
Fraley explained the sponsorship was suggested by a Marathon employee who had gone on a previous Honor Flight with his father. Employees from the Catlettsburg refinery were also eligible to purchase Guardian spots on the flight for $500, enabling them to accompany a veteran relative or friend. Twenty employees and family members purchased guardian spots.
Three Marathon retirees will be on the flight and employees nominated 22 veterans in all to go. Honor Flight Kentucky will fill the remaining seats with veterans and guardians from its waiting list.
“We have a saying in the honor flight that there is no greater honor than to give back to the men and women who put on the uniform and protect our freedom and way of life,” Honor Flight Ambassador, Phil Pittman said.
The flight will depart from the Blue Grass Airport in Lexington early on April 27 and is scheduled to return at 8:30 p.m. that night.
Their return will be met with a welcome home party at the airport which is open to the public; those planning to attend should arrive at the airport by 7 p.m.
“We would love for anyone to come down and welcome these hero’s back,” Pittman said. “It is really inspiring to see the veterans expressions when they come off that plane and see the crowd cheering for them.”
Honor Flight is a nonprofit organization dedicated to taking veterans to national memorials free of cost to the veteran.
Fraley also would like the public to help with the veterans by writing letters to them.
“They do a will call where they get about 30 letters as they board the plane and we would love for the public to write them,” Fraley said.
Letters written to the veterans should be addressed to “Dear Hero” and be mailed to Sheila Fraley P.O. Box 1492 Catlettsburg Ky, 41129 by April 15.