With Veterans passing away daily, the Honor Flight Network performs its duties with urgency, flying as many missions as possible each year to honor those who have served our nation. Honor flights are a rare opportunity to express gratitude to America’s Veterans who have secured our freedoms by taking them to Washington, D.C., to visit memorials commemorating their service. Many of these celebrated Veterans have never been able to visit the nation’s capital and await with mixed emotions to reflect at the landscape symbol of American Democracy.
On October 10, Utah’s Honor Flight #45 departed from Provo to Washington. Those honored on the flight were six Korean War Veterans, one Korea/Vietnam Veteran, one Cold War Veteran, and 64 Vietnam War Veterans for 72 Veterans total.
One of those being honored was Beky Beaton, sports editor for the Lehi Free Press. Many may know Beaton from her excellent sports reporting and well-developed ability to synthesize information in a creative manner.
Beaton joined the Army to honor her family’s legacy of military service and “to try and make a small difference in the world,” said Beaton.
Beaton served in the fourth company to undertake basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C., following the dissolution of the Women’s Army Corps. Beaton earned double qualifications as an Information Specialist-Journalist and Broadcaster.
She completed her service in the Information Office, III Corps Headquarters at Fort Hood, TX. Beaton received four Letters of Commendation during her service and a Certificate of Achievement at its conclusion.
Beaton registered for the Honor Flight to represent her father, a bomber navigator during World War II, and 50 other members of her extended family who served in World War I or II, Korea and Vietnam. Eighteen of them died while in service, including two of seven women.
The trip included a tour of Washington with visits to the Capitol, the Marine Memorial, the Air Force Memorial, the WWII Memorial, the Navy Memorial, and the Korea and Vietnam Memorials. The honorees also visited the Lincoln Memorial and had the opportunity to tour Fort McHenry. All Veterans were celebrated at a banquet the evening of October 10.
During the trip, each Veteran has a guardian to accompany them on their flight and ensure that they had a safe and memorable experience. Beaton had the opportunity to travel with her granddaughter.
“Having my granddaughter Emily come along as my guardian made for an extra memorable trip for both of us. She had previously visited some of the monuments in Washington, but she thought she would gain a different perspective on them traveling with our group, and I believe she did. We tried to talk to as many Veterans as we could and listened to their stories with interest,” said Beaton.
The trip can be a moving experience for many Veterans who have an outpouring of feelings flooded with memories.
“There were many emotional moments for me throughout this trip, but the longest-lasting one came as I was going through my package of letters. The ones written by my family contained things that they had never said to me before and brought tears to my eyes,” said Beaton.
“However, I was also very touched by the messages from strangers, including someone, presumably a child, who had painted a rock in poster blue and put a sticker of the American flag on it. I really appreciated their efforts to reach out to people they don’t know to express their gratitude and support,” she added.
Upon their return to Provo on October 11, the Veterans and their guardians were greeted with a celebration held at the Provo Airport. Members of the public were invited to celebrate each Veteran with applause and cheers of appreciation.
“We were close to the front when we walked through the crowd at the airport. After we reached our family, we turned around and cheered and applauded for the rest of the Veterans as they passed by us,” said Beaton.
“The Korean War Vets were all in their 90s, and many of those who took the trip were in wheelchairs. I feel very confident that most, if not all, of them had not only never been welcomed or honored in this way, but they had endured verbal and even physical abuse from their countrymen during their service experiences. Many were crying as they came through the crowd and all of them were emotional. This trip was cathartic for me on many levels, and I hope it was the same for every Veteran in the group,” added Beaton.
The trip is provided at no cost to the Veterans selected for the flight. This Honor Flight was sponsored by Nate Wade Subaru. According to the Cottonwood Heights Police Chief, Robbie Russo, even one of Utah’s most famous residents, Post Malone, offered a signed guitar to raise money for the Utah Honor Flight organization.
Honor Flights have long been called “the trip of a lifetime” for Veterans. “We here at Utah Honor Flight are so extremely grateful to assist so many deserving Veterans who have so humbly served and sacrificed so much,” said a spokesperson for the Utah Honor Flight organization.
Applications and donations are accepted at https://www.utahhonorflight.org/.