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For Our Vets

by Josephine Cusumano

It takes a village of volunteers to make a difference and Honor Flight of Southern New Jersey is the result of communities coming together to make a difference for our veterans. What originally started as a community service project in 2007 by Williamstown High School’s Pamela Pontano to help connect her students with local veterans, quickly turned into Honor Flight’s official N.J. “hub”—the only one in the state with just 130 throughout the country.

Today, Pamela and her husband Ron continue to run Honor Flight, which made its 10th flight this past June—and were also honored with a proclamation and certificates of commendation from Freeholder Heather Simmons—with as many as 250 veterans and their guardians, busing their way to Washington, D.C., to visit the veterans’ respective memorials for their very first time. From the Air Force, National WWII and Korean War Veteran memorials and Arlington National Cemetery, each veteran gets the opportunity to revisit old memories and most importantly, as Pontano says, make new ones and lasting friendships.

“They’re very touched and humbled,” Pontano says of the participating veterans. “They can’t believe they are still remembered and appreciated and that’s the point of Honor Flight. It’s to say thank you for your service. Every year gives me goose bumps and chokes me up.”

Looking ahead, Honor Flight already booked their next flight for June 2, 2018. “We’re certainly going to continue and one of the things that attracted me to Honor Flight was [its] long-term mission of serving veterans until all had [seen] their memorials and hopefully, maybe, there would be no wars and no more need for Honor Flight,” she says.
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Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Magazine, Volume 14, Issue 4 (July, 2017).
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