The Quad-City and Clinton Hy-Vee stores displayed their patriotism and commitment to the area's veterans Thursday with the sponsorship of another Honor Flight of the Quad-Cities.
At a news conference at the Hy-Vee store on Devils Glen Road in Bettendorf, store directors and managers presented Honor Flight hub director Bob Morrison with a $50,000 check to fund the Oct. 31 flight.
"This is the fifth Quad-City Honor Flight that Hy-Vee has sponsored," said Mark Streit, store director of Hy-Vee on Utica Ridge Road in Bettendorf. "This will help send approximately 95 World War II and Korean veterans to Washington, D.C."
The Oct. 31 flight, one of three remaining this year, will depart with about 162 travelers — including veterans, volunteers and guardians — from the Quad-City International Airport, Moline. The flights take area veterans to the nation's capital to see the war memorials and other sights.
"We feel every veteran who wants to make the trip should have the opportunity to do that," Streit said.
He thanked the suppliers and community leaders are supporting the latest Honor Flight. They include Pepsi, Bimbo Bakeries USA, Quad-City Times, Snapple, Budweiser, Coors Light, Kitchen Cooked, Mama Bosso, Prairie Farms and Famous Dave's.
Hy-Vee also hosts a dinner for the veterans, their guests and guardians on the night before the flight.
The one-day Honor Flights are offered free to the veterans. Those who serve as guardians, escorting each veteran, pay $500 to help offset the cost of the $80,000 flights.
Hy-Vee's sponsored flight will be the hub's 26th flight since the local chapter began in 2008 and the last flight of 2013. An Aug. 29 flight will have nearly all Vietnam veterans as guardians. Another flight is slated for Oct. 3. Morrison said at least four flights are expected to go in 2014.
The local program, which is part of a national network of Honor Flights, began by providing the opportunity to World War II veterans and terminally ill veterans of any era. But with the large number of World War II veterans who have participated, the hub needed to reach out to Korean War Era veterans to keep the flights full.
"World War II veterans are still a priority for us," Morrison said. "They're not going to be around a long time. But they have to fill out an application. They can turn it down if they have to."
Hy-Vee officials said the local stores also will be sending volunteers to be guardians on the flight.
Since 2009, the Hy-Vee grocery store chain has sponsored several Honor Flights around the Midwest. For the third year in a row, the employee-owned company has been named a recipient of the Retail Patriot Award.