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2018 Top-Rated Nonprofit

HONOR FLIGHT CHICAGO CORP

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Nonprofit Overview

Mission: Honor Flight Chicago recognizes the bravery, determination and patriotism of America’s senior military veterans with an all-expense paid, one-of-a-kind journey to Washington, D.C., for a day of honor, thanks and inspiration.

Results: Since its founding in 2008, Honor Flight Chicago has flown 83 flights and more than 7,500 World War II and Korean War veterans to Washington, D.C.

Target demographics: senior war veterans receive the honor and thanks they deserve

Geographic areas served: the Chicago area

Programs: a flight to Washington, D.C., to tour the memorials built in their honor. We also offer educational opportunities at schools throughout the Chicago area.

Community Stories

16 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

My father was a WWII Army Veteran. He passed this year at 91. In 2009 he was invited into the Honor Flight Chicago program which changed his life. He was a proud veteran who cherished his memories of time served with his comrades. After the flight, that pride got noticeably stronger. He spoke SO highly of the Honor Flight staff and program. He referred to them as a classy outfit. Said they 'did' it exactly how it should've been done. Over & over again I listened to his stories about that experience as he fought back tears. He was extremely appreciative of that opportunity. He would ask me every couple of months whether I thought they would let him go again. i would always respond that maybe, once everyone else got their turn. He would agree that he didn't want to take that away from someone else. I am typing this review with tears streaming down my face. Thank you, Honor Flight Chicago, for touching my father's life in such a positive heartfelt way.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

I became involved when i personally witnessed the profound effect Honor Flight Chicago had not only the WW II veterans we flew but the understanding that was missing from family members. This continues today through our flying of Viet Nam Veterans. HFC has a dedicated group of leaders and faithful volunteers who give tirelessly give their time to make a senior war veteran remember he is appreciated and to provide an opportunity to say thank you by a free day long trip to his or her memorial in DC. I have never seen such immediate gratification to both Heroes and volunteers. I am proud to be a part of this Non Profit.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I am a 12 year volunteer with Honor Flight and have never worked with a more dedicated group of fellow volunteers nor a more deserving group of veterans than those we fly each year.

It it truly rewarding to play a small part in honoring our veteran heroes and playing a small part in seeing them so overwhelmed by our gestures of appreciation.

Each volunteer does his or her part and uses their specific special skills to make the veteran's day more enjoyable. For our volunteers the veterans always comes first and there is nothing they wouldn't do to make a veteran feel that his or her service is truly valued by fellow citizens of all ages.

It is especially meaningful to see young people reach out with respect and admiration for these senior veterans. The students may not know the details of any one veteran's experience but recognize the sacrifice that each one made to serve.

Bill Hassett, Board Member, Honor Flight Chicago

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Truely a fantastic organization to be aquatinted with. Highly organized and offers veterans a remarkable and safe travel to Washington DC to honor our greatest hero’s. I m very privileged to be a volunteer with them.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

First-hand experience -- I've volunteered with Honor Flight Chicago since 2014 and can testify there is no better nonprofit anywhere. Honor Flight Chicago sends veterans, at no cost to them, to Washington, DC, for a day to honor and thank them for their service. Countless veterans have said it is an experience they will never forget. Honor Flight Chicago has sent more veterans to Washington than any other Honor Flight group, thanks to contributions from corporations, organizations, and individuals, and the efforts of an exceptional staff and hard-working volunteer corps. There is no more worthwhile cause than honoring our nation's veterans. Honor Flight Chicago staff and volunteers are proud to devote their time and energy to serving those who served our country in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

An amazing experience -- flying to Washington DC to honor more than 100 American heroes -- veterans of WWII and the Korean War, one of the most inspiring days I've had.

Honor Flight spends more than $0.95 of every dollar it receives to provide American veterans with a day of honor they so richly deserve, and which they and their families will never forget.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

In May of 2015 Honor Flight made a dream come true. My friend, Robert Gay a World War 2 veteran and a retired Chicago Firefighter always would stop into our firehouse in Chicago, Engine 115 for coffee and to bring us the paper. We formed a bond and friendship over the years and he was always proud of being a veteran of the Navy. I looked into Honor Flight and it was one of the best decisions I ever made. I told Honor Flight the story of Mr. Gay and how much he would love to have a chance at flying to DC. We were accepted and I cant tell you enough the work and effort that is put in by all the staff and volunteers to make this possible. They are the best people and care so much for everyone on every single flight. The coordination is not easy but they have everything working so smoothly. The look on each veterans face tells it all on how much in awe they are the whole day. The entire trip you are truly proud to be an Amercian and thats thanks to Honor Flight. I feel so fortunate that Mr. Gay was able to experience the Honor Flight because everytime i saw him after the flight thats all he would talk about. Honor Flight you are the best!! Thanks to all involved because without them Honor Flight would not be possible!!

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

In early 2008 I read an article in a Chicagoland newspaper http://prev.dailyherald.com/story/?id=158511 about Honor Flight. I was amazed at such an organization, and did some research to find out more about them, and learned that a local "hub" had just been formed, Honor Flight Chicago (HFC). Shortly thereafter, I got my dad Robert Christensen and his company clerk Earl Thayer to apply, and they were both accepted for HFC's first flight on 6/11/08 (I was their Guardian). Both were in the 33rd "Golden Cross" division, 108 Combat Engineers Btn, Company B (aka "The Hairy Apes of the 108th!").

We left MDW on Southwest's just-painted Screamin' Eagle plane. Arriving in D.C. to a huge throng of flag-waving, cheering well-wishers, I "lost" Earl for a few minutes. Soon I found him standing quietly on the walkway, and he said he had to get away for a short "cry" as they'd *never* been thanked for their service.

It was an incredible, respectful day for them and all their new friends on the flight. They got to meet Sen. Bob Dole and Illinois' newly-elected senator (I've forgotten his name), tour the WW2 Memorial, and see a number of other important, historic sights.

After that first flight, I started volunteering with HFC and helped with every flight from June '08 until we moved from the area in late 2012.

Honor Flight Chicago is an incredible organization, focused on the safety of getting 80+ WW2 veterans (now also Vietnam vets as the number of healthy WW2 vets falls). After their safety, HFC focuses on events and activities to further honor the troops, men and women, beginning with their arrival at 4:00 a.m. at the main floor at Midway to flags, banners, and a trio of uniformed Andrews Sisters-lookalikes that sang the standards of the day. The famous "return home" celebration at MDW includes bands, honor guards, more flags and banners and cheering family members and the public, welcome "their" vets home.

Class. Honor Flight Chicago is nothing but CLASS. https://www.honorflightchicago.org/impact/veterans/

I'm sad to report my dad passed 2/12/12, and Earl passed in 10/25/17. Both mentioned "the trip" more often than I could count.

1 cgiesecke

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have volunteered as a guardian for Honor Flight Chicago as part of the DC team for a year now. It is a well-organized program and they take great care of our honored guests, our Veterans and their families. Also, they make sure that volunteers are prepared and ready to serve. They ensure that the Veterans have plenty of food, snacks and drinks on the trip. They also hold safety at a high standard and during inclement weather---their is no doubt that they are prepared with rain ponchos, umbrellas, coolers, etc.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am an 82 year-old Korean War era Army veteran. I was fortunate to go on a Chicago Honor Flight last May. Thanks to the amazing dedication and planning of Honor Flight Chicago's all volunteer team, the flight was truly one of the most memorable experiences of my entire life. The round trip flight to Washington, DC visited the Korean War Memorial, the Vietnam Wall and numerous other Washington highlights ... all within an amazing 24 hour period!

Thanks to HFC's well trained volunteers, the logistics went flawlessly including many touches such as a surprise "Mail Call" during the return flight to Chicago's Midway Airport...and the brass band, cheers and applause of thousands of friends, relatives, military and public who awaited our plane's arrival.

Tears, patriotism and smiles were strong throughout the day as each of us realized that this was a much needed closure for our service. I will be forever grateful to Honor Flight Chicago for the tribute and joy they provided.

Eugene R. Klompus
Phone: (847) 816-0075

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Honor Flight Chicago brings veterans of all eras to Washington DC at no cost to the vet. I have been volunteering with them for many years. They are a first class operation. Every detail of the day is well planned and coordinated. The veterans are treated just like we would treat our own father or mother. My Dad was a WWII vet but never got to go on an Honor Flight. Every time I volunteer, I feel my Dad is with me and my new friend. I always tell my vets that we owe them "a debt we can never repay." HFC at least makes the down payment.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Have been with them as a Medical Guardian for 4 years and always the same. “Everyone is the best.” “This has been the greatest day.”
And all free of charge to those who deserve the honor most.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My father was selected for Honor Flight late in 2014, and I was honored to accompany him as guardian; so I know firsthand what a wonderful, exhilirating and whirlwind day he experienced. He said that by the end of the day he felt as though he had won World War Two single-handedly! All the veterans were treated to a fantastic day with all the respect they deserved, and all at NO COST to them. They made incredible memories and have the photos and even a DVD to remember the day by.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

From the viewpoint of a physician medical escort, this program is an amazing coordination of services, all for the benefit of the veteran as a hero. An amazing amount of work and commitment from volunteers occurs in order to give the veteran the recognition and thanks they deserve. Hundreds of hours, hundreds of volunteers both in Chicago and Washington DC help make this experience possible. This is one of the most rewarding "medical" experiences I have participated in.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a part of Honor Flight Chicago for several years, and every time I am lucky enough to be a guardian, or floater, I am overwhelmed by the experience. From the music-filled fanfare at the airport upon their arrival, to the various memorials we see, there is nowhere these veterans visit that is not filled with crowds cheering them, shaking their hands or kissing them on the cheek, thanking them, taking pics of them, and more. We see their tears when they arrive and see the crowds cheering them and thanking them; and we see their tears when we wheel or walk them around the WWII Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial, the Korean Memorial. It is quite a moving and emotional time for all.
On my last flight I was lucky enough to meet Smitty, a Korean War vet who lives near Chicago and loves to talk about his family and friends. We have become close friends and chat about once every two weeks. We got together once in Baltimore where we went to Smitty's favorite casino and favoriate restaurant, and are planning another trip soon.
This is truly the volunteer experience of a lifetime!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been involved with Honor Flight Chicago since its inception. I have been a donor, a volunteer and a guardian escorting a WWII Veteran to Washington DC for their day of honor. To date we have flown 69 flights and over 6,000 veterans. There is never a cost to the veterans for what is often a defining day in their lives.
I am writing this review in response to an earlier post questioning the salary that Mary Pettinato receives as the CEO of Honor Flight Chicago. I am very proud of the fact that 94% of all the funds collected by the non profit go directly to the veterans day of honor. Check this against the accounting from other non profits and you will realize what an astounding fact this is. It takes approximately 1,500 man hours prior to each flight. The vast majority of this work is done by a legion of volunteers who believe in this cause. We also believe in the founder and CEO of Honor Flight Chicago Mary Pettinato.
A highly successful business woman, she set aside her career in 2008 to found Honor Flight Chicago. Her goal was to honor her father's WWII service and to honor as many other veterans as possible. To say this commitment has overtaken her life would be an understatement. It is a 24/7 commitment that she embraces with out bounds. I am not sure how you put a price on Mary's dedication and commitment, and to her value to the organization but I am sure it would be far more than she receives.