The National Mall, the beaches of Normandy and Brisbane, Australia.
On Tuesday, Sept. 4, you’re invited to visit them all, when the first ever Virtual Honor Flight – a partnership between Veterans United Home Loans and Central Missouri Honor Flight – takes off at 8 a.m. CST.
Since May 2005, the Honor Flight Network has been transporting veterans to the nation’s capital where they have the opportunity to visit their memorials. Another trip is scheduled for next week, with 68 World War II veterans traveling from Columbia, Mo., to Washington, D.C.
For some veterans, the long trip simply isn’t possible. Thanks to new technology, those who can’t travel due to age or illness, including inaugural passenger Bud Garnett, 93, of Laddonia, Mo., can see their memorials from the comfort of their own homes.
The virtual voyage
Garnett, who served at D-Day, the Battle of the Bulge and the invasion of Normandy, is one of four veterans participating in the first virtual flight. He will be accompanied by VUHL’s Sarah Hill; volunteers in Jefferson City, Mo., Security, Colo. and Michigan will assist the other aging veterans.
The group will be transported via Google+ Hangouts, which use group video chats that are live-streamed on YouTube. Volunteers with the Google+ Virtual Photo Walk project will transmit images from the WWII memorials in Washington, D.C., Australia and from the beaches of Normandy.
Hangout with VUHL
Hill said Google+ was chosen because of the interaction it offers. The site’s group chat function allows greater participation, while the live stream makes the experience accessible to interested individuals everywhere.
Subscribe to VUHL’S YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/user/VeteransUnited) to watch the live stream between 8 and 11 a.m. CST on Tuesday. The virtual honor flight will also be automatically archived for later viewing.
Want to speak to the veterans directly? Joining the Hangout will give you a chance to briefly rotate into the group chat and thank the participants during their virtual flight.
“During the physical honor flights, people are always coming up to the veterans at their memorial, to shake their hands and thank them for their service,” Hill said. “We wanted to be able to simulate this part of the experience for our virtual participants.”
To join Tuesday’s Hangout, +1 and add Veterans United to your Circles. You must be part of VU’s “approved circle” to participate.
To take part in future virtual honor flights, email Sarah Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include the veteran’s name, location and contact information. Virtual flights will be organized to coincide with physical honor flights.
View the archived video of the first Virtual Honor Flight
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