Sulphur Springs native, Judy Rawson Heaps, is shown with her father, WWII Veteran, Gene Rawson,
as they share some of the memories from the first Honor Flight DFW that Gene was a member of, back in 2009.
Sulphur Springs Native Serves
WWII Veterans on Board of
Honor Flight DFW
by: Bobby McDonald
It's certainly a "labor of love" for Sulphur Springs native, Judy Rawson Heaps, a now retired school teacher from Dallas, as she describes her involvement in the Honor Flight DFA organization that works to take War Veterans to Washington D.C. to view the war memorials and honor them for their service. "It all began with serveral of us gathered around a kitchen table, back in 2009," expressed Heaps, as she tells of the humble organization, that has managed to take WWII Veterans to Washington D.C.
"We were humbled when we looked at our own fathers, that had served and many of them had never been able to go and see the War Memorials in Washington D.C., that our country had erected in their honor!" relates Judy Heaps. "And, three years later, we managed to get close to three hundred of them there and safely back, for a trip that is the least we can do for the service they gave to our country."
"The startling fact for us all is that we are losing approximately 900 veterans from the Greatest Generation, each day, in America," continued Heaps."Our mission is big and our time is short, to get these veterans on the trip of a lifetime!"
Honor Flight DFW is a 501 (c)(3), non-profit organization devoted to honoring veterans by taking them to Washington D.C., all expenses paid, to reflect at the memorial built in their honor. Honor Flight DFW is the North Texas-based hub of this nationwide non-profit, and to date, has honored North Texas Veterans by taking close to 300 of them to see their memorial in D.C.
"We are running out of time to complete our mission with WWII Veterans," denoted Heaps. "We plan to continue the program with Korean War Veterans."
Heaps reflects on the nine trips that she's been involved with and tells some great stories of sacrifice, service and patriotism. "We owe this to these men and women who have fought for the freedoms that we enjoy!" expressed Heaps.
Honor Flight DFW is seeking corporate sponsors to help them with this mission that is so vitally important and is long, long overdue for many of these gallant men, who fought so bravely.
Each trip costs $50,000.00 and will accommodate 40-50 veterans, guardians who pay their own way to help take care of the participants, and a medical staff that can take care of the needs of those going. The sponsorship covers a round-trip airfare to Washington D.C., trips to the WWII, Marine, Korean, Viet Nam, Navy and Air Force Memorials, a visit to Arlington National Cemetery, where the veterans place a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and a visit with current injured veterans that are hospitalized at the former Walter Reed Medical facility.
Sponsorships also provide six meals plus snacks and bottled water for the two-day trip for the veterans; one night's lodging at a hotel in the Washington D.C. area; and A Heroes Banquet, for the evening spent in Washington D.C., as well as insurance for the trip.
"I've learned so, so much about what my own relatives endured during WWII, as I've talked with these heroic men and women," continued Heaps. "The trip and experience is unforgetable!"
Judy Heaps was fortunate enough to be able to accompany her own father, Hopkins County native and WWII Veteran, Gene Rawson, on the first trip of the Honor Flight DFW, back in 2009. "It was a great, great trip," expressed Gene Rawson, from his home in Sulphur Springs. "Roger Staubach was one of the sponsors of our trip and I just want to thank him and everyone that was a part of getting me to Washington D.C.!"
"My father had really never talked about his experiences in the U.S. Navy, during WWII," denoted Heaps. "He was 18 years old when he enlisted and he came back home and put those memories aside, as he went about finding a job, completing an education, and raising a family. But the trip to Washington to him, like so many others, brought back a flood of memories that he's been able to share with us, that are invaluable! We're losing those memories if we don't get them down, each and every day, as our veterans pass away!"
Heaps can be reach by cell phone at (214)460-4961 for information about being a sponsor or nominating a veteran to participate. "We have a waiting list of over 300 now and sadly, some have been taken off the list, because they passed away!" added Heaps. "But, we want to continue to serve these Heroes that are living among us!"
Complete information is also available at the website: www.honorflightdfw.org.