War heroes depart for Washington

Sue Guinn Legg • Oct 12, 2012 at 9:17 AM

Honor Flight of Northeast Tennessee is inviting the public to join in a heroes’ sendoff for its first busload of World War II and Korean War veterans as they leave town Friday morning for a complimentary trip to Washington to tour the nation’s war memorials.

The 20 honorees will board the bus at Ramada Inn on North Roan Street following a brief ceremony to begin at 7 a.m. Guests will include U.S. Rep Phil Roe, Johnson City police, fire and emergency medical service personnel, local high school color guards and members of Rolling Thunder Chapter 4. Two Johnson City Fire Department ladder trucks will fly a giant U.S. flag over North Roan and police and Rolling Thunder motorcycles will be lined up to escort the veterans along North Roan onto Interstate 81.

The veterans will begin boarding the bus at 7:30 and are scheduled to pull out at 8. Honor Flight President Edie Lowry invited the public to bring their flags to the send-off and to shake the veterans’ hands as they board the bus. Most of the honorees are WWII veterans. The oldest is 95. This will be the first national war memorial tour for each of them. Each of them deserve to be honored, Lowry said.

A group of volunteer Honor Air “guardians” will accompany the group on the three-day excursion and Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe imitators will ride along to keep them entertained. Their first stop will be in Bedford, Va., for lunch and a tour of the National D-Day Memorial. From there they’ll travel to Springfield, Va., where they’ll be lodging and will have dinner on Springfield’s American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars posts Friday and Saturday nights.

Their tours of the war memorials in Washington are planned for Saturday and Sunday and will include a visit to Arlington National Cemetery, where the veterans will place a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The group will return to Johnson City on Sunday evening and are expected back at Ramada Inn between 5:30 and 6:30, where Honor Flight volunteers and supporters will gather again to welcome them home.

The total cost of the trip is $16,000, which Lowry said has been covered by many local contributors to whom she expressed many thanks. Fundraising for Honor Flight’s next trip to Washington is already under way and includes a Rolling Thunder Poker and Bug Run coming up next weekend in Elizabethton.

To register for the ride, to learn more about how to help Honor Flight or how to secure a trip for a local war veteran, call Lowry at 816-351-0811 or visit www.honorflightnetn.com. Donations may be made at the website or by mail to Honor Flight of Northeast Tennessee, 1005 Opekiska Ext., Erwin, TN 37658.

The Tri-Cities Walk to Defeat ALS will be held Saturday at Warriors’ Path State Park in Kingsport. Registration will begin at 10 a.m. and the Walk will start at 11. It’s the ALS Association’s signature fundraising event in the fight against amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, the crippling and fatal neuromuscular disorder better known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

According to the association, one person dies of ALS every 90 minutes in America and another person is diagnosed with the disease for which there is no known cause and no cure. Since the ALS Walk began in 2000, more than $137 million has been raised for patient services and medical research to improve those statistics.

At the front of Saturday’s Tri-Cities walk will be Team Timp, a band of friends of Bristol marketing executive and nationally known speaker Phil Timp, who was diagnosed with ALS in July 2011 and has been working to raise greater awareness of the disease every since.

Timp explains ALS this way: “It affects the motor neurons in a person’s brain and spinal cord. When the motor neurons die, the muscles waste away. Gradually, a person is robbed of the ability to walk, speak, eat and eventually breathe. All the while, the mind remains sharp and aware of the total paralysis that is quickly setting in.”

Following diagnosis, doctors give ALS patients only two to five years to live. Timp has had the disease for 15 months and he is asking everyone in the Tri-Cities area to help make the efforts of his team, the local ALS walk and the ALS Association “really matter this year.”

“Our combined efforts will help,” he said. “The ALS Association funds research to find the cause and cure of Lou Gehrig’s Disease, as well as support services for people affected by it. My personal fundraising goal is $15,000, and I hope you’ll help me reach it.”

Donations to the walk are tax-deductible and can be made online at webtn.alsa.org. “Every dime makes a difference,” Timp said. “With your support, we can make a positive impact today in the lives of those of us living with Lou Gehrig’s Disease. ... Any amount you feel comfortable giving is deeply appreciated.”

More information about Saturday’s walk and other ways to help in the fight against ALS can also be found at the website or may be obtained by calling Brenda Hrivnak at 246-4373 or Jane Luethke at 224-2357.

More information about Team Timp and Timp’s personal “Silver Linings” message can be found online at teamtimp.com or may be obtained by calling 793-1353.

If there is a need or a project in your neighborhood the Good Neighbor column can assist with, contact Sue Guinn Legg at slegg@johnsoncitypress.com, P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605 1717 or 929-3111, ext. 335.

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