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An Experience of a Lifetime

Utah Honor Flight serves military veterans for nearly 10 years

Stephanie Harmon’s first experience with Utah Honor Flight was nearly a decade ago, as she helped escort several dozen World War II veterans traveling from Salt Lake City to Washington D.C. to see the memorials dotting the National Mall.

She stood mesmerized, hearing stories of conflict on hostile shores—heartwarming tales of courage mixed with heartbreaking moments of loss.

The mission of the Utah Honor Flight is to thank veterans for their service and sacrifice by taking them to see their memorials. That Utah Honor Flight trip for Stephanie was the first of many. It was emotional. It was unforgettable.

It unlocked a passion inside of her.

“I was able to hear firsthand experiences from these amazing veterans and I realized how blessed we all are,” says Stephanie, who now serves as chair of the Utah Honor Flight, a 501 c3 nonprofit organization. The organization is funded completely by private donations and led almost exclusively by volunteers.

“Watching years of suppressed emotion come to the surface for these veterans is a rewarding experience,” she adds.

Since October 2013, Utah Honor Flight has served veterans of World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. As of May 2023, the organization has escorted more than 2,300 veterans to our nation’s capital.

The two-day trip is free for veterans—they can apply at utahhonorflight.org. To protect the veterans, their primary care physician must attest that they are able to travel, and veterans are escorted by guardians who are typically family members able to assist during the trip (not spouses).

Although Utah Honor Flight has transitioned its focus from veterans of World War II and the Korean War to veterans of the Vietnam era, urgency remains. Interested veterans are encouraged to fill out an application today, as there is typically a waiting list. Veterans are selected on a first-come, first-served basis.

Sadly, there are countless instances of veterans who sign up but when they are called are either unable to participate or have already passed away. Time waits for no one.

“We receive letters, texts and phone calls from veterans after flights, telling us how much the trip meant to them,” Stephanie says.

“I love hearing their stories and witnessing tender moments during the flight.”

The Utah Honor Flight's mission is to enable veterans to visit the war memorials built in their honor—with respect and gratitude for their service and sacrifice. 

"We receive letters, texts and phone calls from veterans after flights, telling us how much the trip meant to them." – Stephanie Harmon, Chair, Utah Honor Flight

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