By Conrad Dudderar
A Yukon veteran is preparing for an historic trip to the nation’s capital.
Lt. Col. (ret.) Rick Cacini, who served 40 years in the U.S. Army and 24 years in the U.S. Air Force, will be among veterans on the Oklahoma Warriors Honor Flight set next Tuesday, Oct. 3 from Tulsa to Washington, D.C.
“This will be our ninth mission,” said Lana Hurt, hub director of the Oklahoma Warriors Honor Flight. “From our first flight in October 2019 to our last flight in April 2023, we have been blessed to take over 600 veterans on a free trip of a lifetime.”
The Oct. 3rd flight will include four World War II veterans – with the oldest being 99 years young. There will be 14 Korean War veterans and 47 Vietnam War veterans.
While in Washington, D.C., Yukon’s Cacini and the other veterans will visit the WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Lincoln, Air Force, and Marine memorials.
They also will watch the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider in Arlington Cemetery.
Each veteran is assigned a “guardian”, who helps to make this the best day possible for them. Cacini’s guardian will be Jim Morsches of Yukon.
“This is a very high honor for me to be selected over so many other deserving veterans,” Cacini said. “I was overwhelmed when they first called me because I thought they wanted me as a guardian for the flight.
“I want to thank the community and all the veterans for supporting me.”
As the founder and curator of the Yukon Veterans Museum, Cacini said he’s part of a great team.
“Our organization has ensured that all veterans who are homeless are not on the street in Yukon anymore,” Cacini added. “We also help veterans, their spouses and widows complete paperwork so they can get their benefits from the VA (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs).”
After returning from his trip, Cacini will share his experience in a Power Point presentation to the Yukon Rotary Club.
“I’m going to try to film as much as I can,” he said.
The Yukon veteran is available to share his story about the honor flight with any local civic group or school organization.
WHAT’S MORE …
Other festivities are planned before next month’s Oklahoma Warriors Honor Flight leaves and after it returns.
This includes a sendoff program Monday night, Oct. 2 at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tulsa. Guest speaker will be Jim Bridenstine, an American military officer and former NASA administrator.
After the full day in D.C., Oklahoma’s Honor Flight veterans will fly back to Tulsa that night with a large crowd giving the veterans a welcome home that most (especially from Vietnam) never received.
“We are the only Honor Flight in the state of Oklahoma,” Hurt said. “We are part of Honor Flight Network, which was started in May 2005 to take WWII veterans to D.C.
“As their numbers dwindled, Korea and Vietnam veterans were added.”
Every place an honor flight flies out of is called a “hub.” There are 141 hubs in 46 states & Puerto Rico.
Each fight costs about $120,000.
“It is so important to keep these flights going as our veterans are running out of time,” Hurt added. “We currently have around 250 on our waiting list.”
To learn more or make a contribution, visit www.oklahomawarriors.org.
“All donations go towards the flights as our 15 board members donate their many hours to this great organization,” Hurt pointed out.