Started at 14 years old, her campaign total of over $140,000 will send
82 veterans to Washington, D.C. on June 18
ARLINGTON, Va. (June 9, 2022) – The first all-Vietnam veteran Honor Flight trip from Michigan will land in Washington, D.C. on June 18 thanks to the extraordinary support of a local teen. Alice Kraatz of Kalamazoo began fundraising for the trip when she was only 14 years old. Now 17, Kraatz has raised more than $140,000—enough to sponsor the entire plane of veterans travelling to the nation’s capital to experience the memorials built in their honor.
Kraatz proposed the all-Vietnam veteran trip while serving as the Michigan State President of the Children of the American Revolution (C.A.R.) from 2019-2020. She sold MIA/POW bracelets to raise money and recruited other youth organizations to join her campaign by collecting bottles and cans, hosting yard sales, and asking for sponsorships.
“The State Project I led during my term was called ‘To Honor, To Remember,’ and its goal was to raise money to put Vietnam veterans on the Honor Flight, with the intent of filling the plane,” recalls Kraatz. “Sending an Honor Flight devoted solely to Vietnam veterans will allow us to give them the recognition and honor that they deserve.”
The trip, named “C.A.R. Yellow Ribbon Honor Flight,” will take the veterans to Arlington National Cemetery to participate in a wreath-laying, then to the National Mall to visit the memorials honoring those who served. The veterans will receive the Vietnam War Commemorative Pin during a special pinning ceremony at 2:50 p.m. at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. On their flight home, the veterans will receive letters from loved ones and supporters to read during one-last “Mail Call.” Trip organizers also have special plans to give the veterans the proper homecoming that so many in their generation never received.
The Honor Flight Network’s Lone Eagle program, which coordinates trips for veterans who live outside the reach of the organization’s more than 130 hubs, is organizing the trip in cooperation with local hubs Mid-Michigan Honor Flight and Talons Out Honor Flight.
“The veterans returning from Vietnam did not receive the same kind of homecoming that was given to veterans of previous generations and, in too many cases, our Vietnam veterans experienced rejection and anger,” said Bobbie Bradley, the Chief Operating Officer of the Honor Flight Network. “We can’t change what happened half-a-century ago, but we can do something about the present. As long as there are Vietnam veterans among us, it is not too late to thank them.”
The Honor Flight Network brings veterans to Washington, D.C. at no cost to the veterans. Formed in 2005, the network has provided the once-in-a-lifetime experience to more than 250,000 veterans.
About Honor Flight Network
The Honor Flight Network was formed in 2005 with a mission of honoring our nation’s veterans by bringing them to Washington, DC to visit the memorials and monuments dedicated to their service and sacrifice. The Honor Flight Network is currently comprised of over 130 hubs throughout the country dedicated to carrying out the Honor Flight mission. In addition to World War II veterans, the organization transports those who served in the Korean War, Vietnam War, intermediary operations, and in special cases of terminal illness or injury, veterans from more recent service eras. Since 2005, the Honor Flight Network has taken more than 250,000 veterans to Washington D.C. For more information, visit honorflight.org.