Central New York, Community, History, Syracuse

World War II Vets Are Being Encouraged To See The Memorials That Honor Them

Honor Syracuse Operation Coordinator–Mike Gasapo– explained how the charity is planning its 11th flight for April, 2018 © Cassondra Balkin

Listen to how Syracuse Honor Flight Operations Coordinator Mike Gasapo  says the charity is adapting to the  aging of WW2 Vets.

 By Sunny Balkin SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) —Mike Gasapo pulled the items out of the bag one right after the other, like a child opening a present on Christmas. First a name tag, then a poster, and finally a shiny gold medal. He smiled as he explained how Syracuse Honor Flight, the charity he’s the Operation Coordinator for, gives these bags to each of the veterans who travels with them.

Syracuse Honor Flights flies veterans from Syracuse to Washington D.C, so that these heroes will have a chance to see the war memorials built in their honor. Gasapo said how the program was started specifically for World War II  vets.

However, according to the Nation World War II Museum   there are  only about 558,00 World War II vets left in the U.S, with an average of 362 dying a day. Gasapo said the main itinerary of the program is  World War II  based, so the aging of these veterans has made organizations like Honor Flight think about how they’ll adapt their charity to fit a different demographic of veterans.

“We are considering other options,”Gasapo said “Maybe adding a third flight, maybe doing something specifically for Vietnam vets, but those are all in the planning stages.”

Gasapo said that the organization wants to transport as many vets as possible within the next year or so, however he expressed concern that the vets are  aging quicker than the charity can find them.

“We really want to make sure that all of the World War II Vets make the trip,” Gasapo said “We’ve had too many instances where we had World War II Vets say maybe next time, and they have since passed on.”

According to DataUsa, as of 2015 only about ten percent of the veteran population in Onondaga County was World War II vets. Gasapo said that their program will continue to expand and reach out to veterans. So far,  Honor Flights has two full trips to D.C planned for 2018.