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Local senior raises awareness for Honor Flight program

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Veterans touring the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. Veterans touring the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.
West Salem, WI (WXOW) -

WEST SALEM, Wis. (WXOW) – At the end of World War II, the nation had 16 million military veterans. Today, that number is just over one million. West Salem High School senior Ryan Huebsch is helping sending veterans on an Honor Flight.

“I’ve always loved the freedom that we have,” Huebsch said.

An honor flight is when a community or organization comes together to help send veterans to Washington D.C., so they can see the memorials built in their honor.

“Veterans put everything on the line for us and they gave us our freedom,” Huebsch said.

Huebsch coordinated the showing of the 2012 Documentary “Honor Flight”, with the goal of raising enough money to send veterans on a future honor flight of their own.

“The real heroes, the veterans that came back say the real heroes are the ones that don’t come back. They put everything on the line for us and this is the last thing we can give back to them,” Huebsch said.

Since fall, Huebsch has been working with the Freedom Honor Flight Program of La Crosse. One program director, Patti Lokken, has helped guide Huebsch throughout the school year. Lokken and Huebsch both said they believe it’s important to pass a legacy of remembering what veterans have done for today’s generation.

“Anytime we can have young people today remembering what our veterans have done for their freedoms, that’s a pretty special thing,” Lokken said.

Since 2008, Lokken said the Freedom Honor Flight program has sent roughly 1,200 veterans to Washington D.C., and she said veterans have looked at it as “one of the best days of their lives”.

“It lets our veterans know we are remembering the sacrifices that they made many years ago, so that we all enjoy the freedoms that we have today,” Lokken said.

Huebsch said he wants to raise awareness for the Honor Flight program, because he doesn’t want his peers to take their freedom for granted.

It costs $500 per veteran to Washington D.C., which includes meals and travels for the one-day event.

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