Vermillion vets to participate in Honor Flight South Dakota

Honor Flight South Dakota is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing an all expense paid trip for World War II veterans to Washington D.C. to tour the National World War II Memorial.

The National WWII memorial in Washington DC was completed and dedicated in 2004. Since the dedication, the Honor Flight concept was launched to recognize the service and sacrifice of American veterans with a visit to the national memorials at no cost to the veteran. Most WWII veterans are now in their 80s and do not have the where-with-all to travel on their own. Honor Flight Guardians travel along providing assistance and help veterans have a safe, memorable, and rewarding experience.

While organizing Veteran's Day activities in recent years, Julie Rolfes, Therapeutic Recreation manager at Sanford Care Center Vermillion was aware of the number of World War II veterans amongst the residents and tenants of Sanford Care Center Vermillion and Dakota Gardens apartments.

Currently, 11 World War II veterans reside between the two facilities; 10 males and one female. Julie, having recently had close family members take part in an Honor Flight trip, was inspired to pursue that same opportunity for these veterans.

Rolfes has been working with a number of the veterans and their families in the application process for Honor Flight trips in 2010. She was pleased to recently learn that the four veterans that applied, two from Sanford Care Center and two from Dakota Gardens were approved to participate in the Honor Flight departing from Sioux Falls on May 21.

Larry Rohrer and Dave Landry of Honor Flight South Dakota were invited to Vermillion to meet with Rolfes and Tim Tracy, CEO at Sanford Vermillion. Rohrer and Landry shared a great deal of information about Honor Flight, their fundraising efforts and the application process.

The Dakota Hospital Foundation board was made aware of the efforts of Honor Flight South Dakota and the limited time remaining to accomplish their goal for South Dakota veterans. In March, the Dakota Hospital Foundation board voted unanimously to make a $10,000 contribution to the cause.

"The board is more than eager to support Honor Flight and help in any way that we can to honor our World War II Veterans with this well-deserved experience," said Jerry Johnson, president, Dakota Hospital Foundation.

"We are so excited for the veterans that will be making the trip in May. It has been a privilege to work with them on this project. It will truly be a special experience for them all," said Julie Rolfes, Sanford Vermillion.

For more information, log on to or send an e-mail to honorflightsd@gmailcom.

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