By Shereen Siewert

A Never Forgotten Honor Flight set for April 20 has been suspended amid coronavirus concerns, according to a statement from the organization.

Mike Thompson, Never Forgotten Honor Flight president, issued a statement Wednesday announcing the cancellation. On March 10, the board of the Honor Flight Network held an emergency meeting concerning the situation and discussed a Centers for Disease Control advisory that adults older than 60 are particularly at risk of infection and should avoid all non-essential air travel.

The national board issued a mandatory suspension of all Honor Flight trips effective immediately through at least April 30, the statement read.

“The national Board will continue to monitor CDC guidance over the coming weeks to determine if the mandatory suspension of Honor Flight travel will be extended further,” Thompson said.

Thompson called the uncertainties and risks associated with COVID-19 unprecedented.

“We are particularly concerned about the susceptibility of our elderly veterans to infectious diseases,” Thompson said. “Many veterans who make Honor Flight trips have serious, chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, COPD or lung disease that leave them even more vulnerable to COVID-19.  In addition, many of these veterans live in community settings, such as a retirement home or assisted living facility, where the risk of spread is extremely high.  While we realize that many veterans feel a sense of urgency to make a trip to their memorials before it is too late to do so, we simply cannot allow travel under the present circumstances.”

The Never Forgotten Honor Flight Hub based in Wausau serves veterans in these 13 Wisconsin counties:  Marathon, Portage, Wood, Clark, Taylor, Langlade, Lincoln, Oneida, Vilas, Iron, Barron, Price and Rusk.

North Central Wisconsin’s Never Forgotten Honor Flight is the nation’s 77th regional hub and one of five Wisconsin Honor Flight hubs. The Wausau-based organization was certified by the National Honor Flight Network office in Springfield, Ohio on December 11, 2009.