In an effort to honor and thank the state’s World War II veterans, South Carolina’s electric cooperatives are committing $60,000 to underwrite the costs of an Honor Flight to Washington, D.C., on April 11, 2012. Honor Flight is a program which gives veterans an opportunity to visit the World War II Memorial, designed to pay tribute to America’s “Greatest Generation.” This arrangement marks the first time in the history of Honor Flight of South Carolina that a single organization has sponsored an entire trip.
The partnership between electric cooperatives and Honor Flight of South Carolina was announced Friday in Columbia by Mike Couick, president and CEO of the Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina. ECSC is the statewide service and trade association for 18 electric cooperatives in South Carolina.
“As we think about all of the many things we’re grateful for this Thanksgiving weekend, this is an ideal time for South Carolina’s cooperative family to say ‘thank you’ to an entire generation of real heroes,” said Couick. “We’re extremely proud to be able make this unprecedented commitment on their behalf.”
Honor Flight of South Carolina was launched in 2008 by Columbia businessman Bill Dukes, who serves as the organization’s chairman and president. Since its founding, the organization has arranged for 11 chartered day-trips to the nation’s capital, allowing more than 1,000 veterans the chance to experience the World War II Memorial.
“This partnership is incredibly exciting for us,” said Dukes, who accepted the $60,000 pledge on behalf of Honor Flight of South Carolina. “This gives us a huge opportunity to reach a group of veterans in non-urban areas who may not have heard of Honor Flight. Being able to work with a group like the co-op’s, who have such a strong community presence in many of our small towns, is exactly what our organization needed right now.”
More than 1.5 million South Carolinians use power from the consumer-owned electric cooperatives, which provide electric service in parts of all 46 counties.
“Our commitment goes beyond the money we’re pledging today,” said Couick. “As a group, we’re going to use as many of our local resources as possible to help Honor Flight of South Carolina reach every last veteran who wants to make this trip.”
Dukes, who’s travelled on nearly a dozen honor flights, says the timing of the announcement is also critical.
“With each passing month, there are fewer veterans available to travel. Their average age is over 88. Working with the co-ops gives us a great opportunity to reach a group of small-town veterans who may have no idea there’s a program like this designed just for them. We hope we can get word to all of them. That’s the goal.”
To reach that goal, the co-ops have created a simple online application for the April 11th flight. The application is available at www.scliving.coop. Printed applications will also be available in the January edition of South Carolina Living Magazine.