Locust Fork Baptist Church has held a patriotic service the Sunday before the Fourth of July for a number of years. Pastor Randy Cater said the service honors military veterans with the presentation of the colors and patriotic songs, including the National Anthem and choral renditions of the songs for each branch of service. The church also hosts “Fireworks in the Park” in Locust Fork’s town park that same evening.
This year’s service on June 28 will be no different, except the collection from the congregation that day will be a love offering donated to the committee to Fly a Blount County Vet Honor Flight. The trip had been scheduled for Sept. 2020; however, it’s been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and will take place sometime in 2021.
Cater encourages other churches in the county to collect donations for the cause. He would like to see the county “come together to support our veterans who have so freely given to us. This is the least that we can do to be able to give back. I have such an appreciation for those who have stepped in the gap for us. I’m just very grateful and thankful for the sacrifices these men and women have made on behalf of our country.”
Committee member Lester Hallman said the flight is for veterans who live in Blount County and served during World War II, the Korean War, or the Vietnam War. To qualify, a veteran must provide a letter from a physician certifying sufficient good health to make the trip and a copy of a DD214 or equivalent discharge papers.
All World War II veterans that meet these criteria are eligible. Korean War era veterans must have served at some point from June 25, 1950, to January 31, 1955. Vietnam War era service members must have served between February 28, 1961, and May 7, 1975. There is no requirement to have served in combat or even on foreign soil.
The Blount County Memorial Museum, the Blount County Historical Society, and members of honor flight committee have two more fundraising events on June 30, both from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. One event is an on-air radiothon from the studio of WCRL Radio (95.3FM) where they will be taking call-in and walk-up donations. While that event is happening, a silent auction will be held at The Little Brick Church.
Museum curator Amy Rhudy said that if any other churches or organizations collect donations before June 30, they can come by the radio station or call 205-274-9530 to announce their contribution. All donations will go to the honor flight, which is free to veterans and guardians.
An application for veterans (no additional guardian applications are being accepted) can be obtained by calling Rhudy at 205-625-6905 or through her email email@example.com. Questions about the flight, how donations can be made, and other inquiries should also be sent to Rhudy.
She cautions applicants and donors not to submit donations or applications at the national honor flight website because they will not go to the Blount County operation, which is being funded by citizens of the county.