Thank you to all the folks who made the Veterans Car Show this past weekend such a great success! The following article is reproduced with permission from the Las Cruces Sun News.
LAS CRUCES — A car show Saturday at Borman Ford meant three veterans who have never been to Washington, D.C. to visit the National World War II Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, or Vietnam Veterans Memorial will get a chance later this year to visit those shrines.
About $3,200 was raised for Honor Flight of Southern New Mexico, a nonprofit organization that has taken veterans to Washington, D.C. the past 10 years to see the national monuments dedicated to them for their military service to the United States. Now in its 10th year, Honor Flight of Southern New Mexico has provided about 400 veterans with an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington to say thanks for their service and sacrifice.
“Because we are a nonprofit organization and 100 percent of donations account for all of the money used to provide these trips, events like this are critical, and mean a lot, to Honor Flight of Southern New Mexico,” said Arnold Diaz, chair of Honor Flight of Southern New Mexico. “This shows people have a special place in their hearts for veterans.”
Kathy Olson, a board member of Honor Flight of Southern New Mexico, said it costs about $1,000 to pay for each veteran’s trip to Washington. The cost includes round-trip airfare, lodging and meals.
Members of the Custom Classic Cruisers and Cruisers Unlimited car clubs of Las Cruces organized Saturday’s car show and a Friday night “Cruising with the Vets” car ride.
“We have a lot of veterans who belong to car clubs in Las Cruces who will come out to support events like this,” said John Hernandez, a Cruisers Unlimited member who also is a veteran from the Vietnam era. “This is more of a social event for me.”
Fifty six vehicles participated in the car show. Some of the more impressively restored vehicles included a Ford Model A jalopy, a 1931 Ford Victoria, a 1928 Ford Model A, a 1976 Chevrolet Vega wagon, and a 1934 Ford pickup truck. Trophies and prizes were awarded in several categories.
Linda Widbur, who serves as the medical coordinator for Honor Flight of Southern New Mexico, said she has been on seven of the nine previous trips. Each one of those has been memorable.
“Every flight has its own character,” Widbur said. “A lot of these veterans are often hesitant about going. They are often very quiet when the trip starts, but when they go to the memorials a lot of them start sharing their memories. Your jaw often drops when you hear their stories.”
Las Crucen Kirby Prickett, a veteran of the Korean War, was on the 2012 Honor Flight of Southern New Mexico trip. He now serves on the organization’s board of directors and is an ambassador.
“The focus is still on World War II and Korea veterans first,” said Prickett, of veterans who get first preference to take the next available trip. “it’s getting harder to find World War II veterans, but if there is someone out there who hasn’t been on the trip and wants to go, they get priority.”
Prickett added public support is a significant factor the trips to Washington continue for deserving veterans.
“We couldn’t do what we don’t without the support of the community,” Prickett said. “We’re always counting on donations from the community.”
Contributions and applications for Honor Flight of Southern New Mexico trips can be made at www.honorflightnm.org. Contact information is also available at the website.
Steve Ramirez can be reached at 575-541-5452, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @SteveRamirez6 on Twitter.