Ex-Army nurse to fly veterans to memorial

Published 7:19 pm Sunday, April 8, 2007

Next month an Edgecombe County nurse plans to fly up to 100 World War II veterans to Washington D.C.
The retired Army captain wants to take the day trip with fellow eastern North Carolinians to show the “greatest generation” the national memorial built in their honor.
She’s calling it the Memorial Flight.
Memorial Flight’s maiden tour is scheduled for May 12.
The initiative was created by retired Army Nurse Corps Officer Pam Morgan, a Tarboro native. She is a registered nurse and a member of the nursing faculty at Edgecombe Community College in Tarboro.
Morgan pointed out that the memorial was completed only three years ago.
Memorial Flight is a nonprofit organization associated with the Edgecombe County Veterans Military Museum.
The Tarboro-based group was formed to serve all World War II veterans in the eastern part of the state.
Morgan said 80 World War II veterans have submitted applications to take the Memorial Flight, and about 40 volunteers have expressed interest in going on the day-long trip.
The tour can accommodate 100 veterans and 48 volunteer guardians.
In Beaufort County, veterans from Washington and Bath have signed up as have folks in the surrounding counties of Pitt, Edgecombe, Nash and Wilson, Morgan said.
Dedicated in 2004, the memorial honors men and women who served in the Second World War — most in their eighties and nineties or older. The memorial, Morgan pointed out, is largely inaccessible to many of them due to limited mobility or financial limitations.
Morgan has been planning the trip for two months.
She wanted to get it in before the summer when it would be too hot to travel comfortably.
On the one-day trip, Morgan said the group will visit the World War II memorial site, which is on the National Mall between the Vietnam and Korean war memorials, visit the Arlington National Cemetery and have dinner that evening in D.C.
Morgan’s Memorial Flight was inspired by other organizations such as Honor Flight, HonorAir and Hero Flight, which also have chartered flights for veterans to see the national memorial.
HonorAir, an organization led by Jeff Miller of Hendersonville, has flown to D.C. over 300 World War II veterans from the western part of the state. To make the trip, Miller raised $133,000 in less than 12 days.
Morgan saw the story on the CBS show “Sunday Morning.”
The Hendersonville resident got the notion from Earl Morse of Honor Flight, which is based in Ohio.
Since then, similar trips have been made by groups in Michigan and Utah.
Morgan and 29 others attended a summit with Morse and Miller in Washington, D.C., in February on how to make a local trip happen.
Morgan, 37, spent 12 years in the Army as a nurse. She graduated from Tarboro High School in 1987 and attended Barton College in Wilson. Morgan entered the Army with a degree in respiratory therapy and the rank of sergeant. She applied for a scholarship and graduated with a four-year nursing degree from Barton and was commissioned as a second lieutenant.
She has served at Fort Bragg; Fort Sam Houston, Texas; Fort Sill, Okla.; and Fort Gordon, Ga. She was a captain when she resigned.
Morgan said if she garnered interest from more veterans than can take the May trip, she would consider reprising the Memorial Flight in the fall.
Morgan estimates the East Coast trip will cost about $37,000 for a charter flight and bus service in the nation’s capital.
The cost includes paying for the veterans to make the trip. The 48 guardians and support staff would pay for their tickets.
Morgan said the flight, which takes about 45 minutes, would take-off from the Pitt-Greenville airport at 9 a.m. and return about 7 p.m.
Once in Washington, D.C., the group of veterans will then travel by motorcoach to the mall area to tour the memorial and other points of interest.
Volunteers will be on hand to push wheelchairs, assist with meals and provide standby assistance. A boxed lunch will be provided as well as a buffet dinner before returning home that evening.
Fund raising to finance the trip is still ongoing but “progressing well,” Morgan said.
Next Friday, Memorial Flight is planning its last big fund raiser with a concert at Edgecombe Community College.
The benefit concert starts at 7:30 p.m. and features The Kick-40 band and Milton “The Golden Platter” Bullock performing at the Keihin Auditorium on the Edgecombe Community College campus.
Tickets are $15 and will be available for advance purchase, Morgan said.
Morgan said the local group has raised about $12,000 thus far.
In order to make the trip , it needs to be funded by the end of April , she said.
There are two ways to contribute to the Memorial Flight project. One can volunteer as a guardian to assist veterans during the tour. Interested applicants should contact Morgan and request a volunteer application. Guardians are asked to offer a donation of $250 to cover their own travel expenses.
Folks wanting to support the project can also make a donation. A donation of $300 sponsors a veteran for the trip. Tax-deductible donations are accepted through the Edgecombe County Veterans Military Museum. Make checks payable to the museum with “Memorial Flight” noted in the memo line and mail to: Memorial Flight, P.O. Box 1235, Tarboro, NC 27886.
Morgan is asking World War II veterans or anyone who knows a veteran interested in taking the trip to contact her at 252-641-1455 and leave a name and address so she can send an application also available at her Web site: www.memorialflight.org.