Honor Flight teaches lesson at WSNMS

Published 4:24 pm Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Students and staff of Project Eagle at W.S. Neal Middle School couldn’t have known they would be giving a local veteran the birthday gift of a lifetime this year.
Through their efforts in a “learn and serve project” Project Eagle students have made it their goal to sponsor a local veteran for the Honor Flight program this May.
James Lambeth, who will celebrate his 90th birthday on the flight, is the recipient of the gift of the honor flight from Project Eagle.
Kina Burkett, director for WSNMS Project Eagle, said the students made the decision to take on the sponsorship as their project for this year.
“Every year, we have a ‘learn and serve’ project that we do as a group,” Burkett said. “The project has to be something that we can learn while doing and also has to serve a purpose or need for our community. Sponsoring a veteran for the Honor Flight was completely their idea. It has been a wonderful experience for all of us.”
One of the first things the students decided upon was the best way to raise funds to pay for the trip.
“We had a penny drive leading up to the Alabama/Auburn game,” Burkett said. “The group was able to raise $847 bringing in those pennies. They worked hard and learned a lot of interesting things while they worked on the project.”
Initially, the group chose a veteran to sponsor but would be saddened at his passing.
“We had a teacher whose uncle was on the waiting list for the Honor Flight and when we offered to sponsor him, they moved him up on the list to go,” Burkett said. “However, before the trip could be finalized, Mr. Giles passed away. That’s when we found out about Mr. Lambeth.”
Lambeth, who lives in Brewton, said he is excited about the chance to be a part of the Honor Flight program.
“I found out about the trip about three weeks ago,” Lambeth said. “I’m excited. The whole family is going to be able to go along for the trip with me.”
Lambeth said he has made the trip to Washington, D.C., and has seen many of the sights around the nation’s capital.
“I’ve seen most of the monuments there,” Lambeth said. “But, I’ve never seen the World War II memorial.”
A veteran of World War II, Lambeth also served two tours of duty in the Korean War.
Dr. Barry Booth, a Daphne dentist, helps to coordinate the Honor Flight of South Alabama.
“The program started in 2005,” Booth said. “The veterans are given the opportunity to go on the Honor Flight all expenses paid because of contributions like this.”
Booth said World War II veterans are decreasing in numbers and the importance of making them a part of the program is imperative.
“These men and women are growing older and many are dying every day,” Booth said. “There are 12,000 to 15,000 dying across the nation every day. It is incumbent upon us to not forget them and honor them for their service.”
Burkett said the students wouldn’t be able to see Lambeth off for his trip, but plan to be on hand for his return.
“The departure is just too early for our kids to be able to go,” Burkett said. “But, we have made arrangements for them to be at the airport when the flight returns to Mobile. It’s a wonderful thing to see these veteran’s happy and we want to be there to welcome him home.”
Honor Flight Network is a non-profit organization that was created solely to honor America’s veterans for all their sacrifices. They transport the heroes to Washington, D.C. to visit the memorial as thanks for their service and dedication. Top priority is given to those who fought in World War II, as there are less of them every day.

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