The Story of The Honor Flight Eagle

The Honor Flight Eagle
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Lone Star Honor Flight is an organization founded  by Montgomery ISD educators
Brenda Beavens and Dwayne McFaddin.  Honor Flight's original mission was to take World War II Vets
to Washington D.C. to see the WWII Memorial. Over the years, the mission has evolved into something more -
Honor Flight now hosts a weekly Wednesday morning social for the Vets at 105 Storage (LSHF's home base),
along with field trips and other group events.

The HF Eagle was donated to Memory Park by Rotarian Jack McClanahan, who owns 105 Storage
and has become Brenda's partner in service to the vets.
Jack wanted to thank RCLC members
for their support of LSHF over the years, and at the same time leave a lasting monument for the Vets
and their families to visit locally. 


      The Eagle, with a wing span of about 4 feet and resting atop a 7 foot base, rises almost 11 feet into the air. 
The names of all 515 veterans who populated the 5 Honor Flights to D.C. are engraved on 5 panels attached to the base,
along with the dates of their flights.
There is a dedication panel explaining the mission of Lone Star Honor Flight and a 7th panel
with the names of the donors who answered the call of our "Freedom Is Not Free" eagle donation challenge
and gave almost 6000.00 to Honor Flight during the organization's final fundraiser in 2010.
An 8th and final panel will honor the many volunteers who have made Honor Flight possible.

The Eagle is a stunning addition to Memory Park, and what we hope is a proper tribute to our men and women of WWII. 

The Eagle is step one of Phase II of the park.

     Most people enter the park via the Shane Carter Rose Garden on the south side of the park, nearest the library.
But this northwest corner, where the small parking lot resides, is - or at least will be - the real main entrance to the park. Eventually this corner will be home to The Veteran's Plaza, honoring all military men and women in Montgomery County, along with grand steps leading up to the northern ridge walking path, and we hope, an old fashioned bandstand gazebo.

     Our vision is clear for this area of the park - we just need the donations to fund it.
While this will be a rather expensive section of the park, we know many great projects must be done in steps, and the Honor Flight Eagle is, indeed, step one for this area.

 

RECAP OF THE UNVEILING CEREMONY
SEPTEMBER 9,2010
 

 

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 (Missing Man Formation Photo courtesy of
Houston Chronicle Photographer David Hopper)
 

More than 300 people attended the unveiling of
The Honor Flight Eagle on September 9, 2010.

See the photo journal on this left sidebar of this page for 100s
of  photos of The HF Eagle. Thank you Mark Stevens, Wally Lockey, Michael McBride
and Houston Chronicle Photograher David Hopper for your photos!  Former
RCLC Member Malcolm Pepper also contributed a few beautiful shots while he was
visitig the park the morning after the HF 9/11 Event at The Ark Church.


 

The Honor Flight Eagle Awaits, wrapped in Red, White and Blue

 

 Unveiled, he awaits the future development of the
Veteran's Plaza in Memory Park

 

 

After the ceremony, Honor Flight Vets
locate their names
on the panel dedicated to their flight

( These 3 photos courtesy of Wally Lockey and Michael McBride)

     The crowd had grown quiet and taken their seats in preparation for what was to come.
The silence was broken by a distant sound the men all recognized, one that grew more
pronounced by the second. And then they appeared, bursting through the light cloud
cover above, backed by a clear blue sky - the jets of Freedom Flight passing over ahead
to salute the Veterans below.
Thus began the Honor Flight Eagle unveiling in Memory Park on September 9th.
 


    A crowd of several hundred World War II Vets, their families, local dignitaries and members of the
community gathered on the northwestern corner of Memory Park last Thursday as
The Rotary Club of Lake Conroe hosted the dedication ceremony for the Honor Flight Eagle,
which now makes its home on this little piece of real estate, anchoring what will be
The Veteran's Plaza and main entrance of Memory Park, Phase II of this long range park project.
 
     Constables from Precinct I assisted with parking and The Montgomery Fire Department
hoisted a flag high into the air from their ladder truck, a beautiful site to see.
The short 30 minute program was packed with inspirational words and praise for the
515 Veterans who populated the 5 Honor Flights that traveled to Washington D.C between 2008 and May of 2010.     
 
     After the stunning fly over, an Honor Guard from The Montgomery High School ROTC
posted the colors, followed by a beautiful solo by MHS's Stephanie Hord, singing our national anthem. 
Montgomery United Methodist Church Assistant Pastor Hiram "Doc" Jones then led the invocation.
Doc is a retired Air Force Brigadier General.
 
 
       RCLC's President Mike Berger was master of ceremonies for the dedication
and welcomed Montgomery Mayor Travis Mabry and County Judge Barb Sadler to the "Texas stage"
(The back of a bright red pickup truck) to speak. Mayor Mabry spoke of how Memory Park
has added so much to the community and how excited he was about the addition of
The Honor Fight Eagle to the park. Judge Sadler told the crowd that he would be honored to be at
any and every celebration for these men and women who had given so much in service to their country.
He also praised Memory Park and said that there were memorials in the park for both his Mom and Dad,
and that his son's recently completed Eagle Scout Project was a bridge in the park.
 
 
      Honor Flight Founders Brenda Beaven and Duane McFaddin and HF Director Jack McClanahan
then took the stage. All three HF Executives spoke of the veterans' service to their country,
the privilege it has been to work with local veterans, and how their lives had been enriched
because of Honor Flight. At Jack's instruction, the Eagle's base, hidden under a wrap of red, white
and blue fabric, was unveiled to reveal eight engraved panels - one for each of the 5 flights,
and the others to explain the mission of Honor Flight and to recognize donors and volunteers.
As the program concluded, the young and clear voices of The Montgomery Elementary School Choir,
under the direction of Joy Fulp, sang a patriotic medley.    
 
 
      As the children finished, eyes looked to the skies again. Perfectly timed, as if by divine intervention,
the jets appeared once more, this time flying the Missing Man Formation, as Ray Priest,
a retired Marine Bugler, played Taps. There was not a dry eye on the ground. It was breathtaking.
 
     Much thanks must go to Joe Waltz, Fred Dennis, Dennis Irvine, Jay Blume, Dick Stevens and  
Jimmy Crawford of Freedom Flight for their spectacular aerial display and to Ray and
The East Tex Detached Marine Corp League for their support of Honor Flight
and their assistance at the ceremony. Sound for the unveiling was
provided by Rotarian Spouse Patty Adams and Rotarian Mark Leopold.
Hundreds of photographers were taken, including those on this site, courtesy of
Houston Chronicle Photographer David Hopper, Rotarian Mark Stevens,
and Honorary Rotarians Wally Lockey and Michael McBride. Thank You
for your creative eye and quick shutters.
 
     After the unveiling, the Veterans made their way to the Eagle,
to have photos taken as they found their names listed within their flight panel,
and then everyone adjourned to Ransom's Steak House, where owner Steve Treat
hosted a reception for all in attendance.
We thank Steve and everyone at Ransom's for their hospitality and generosity.
 
    At Ransom's, amid a sea of Sheri Kennedy's distinctive red "Freedom Isn't Free" t-shirts,
well wishers greeted the veterans again. Sheri's fundraising shirts have become a fixture
around the lake and will be forever linked to Honor Flight. We hear from a good source
that Sheri has another shirt project to be unveiled soon!
 
     The Eagle's installation and the planting of the garden surrounding it
would not have been possible without the hard work and long hours of Peter and Chris Wakefield
and their crew at Wakefield Landscaping, Gary Williams of The Laser Shoppe in Willis,
and the volunteer hours of Rotarian spouses Wally Lockey and Michael McBride.
The support of the Lefevre Family and Charles B Stewart Library Staff was, as always, invaluable.
     Without Jack and Nancy McClanahan and HF Eagle Donor Group,
there would be no Eagle, so we offer a very special debt of gratitude to those folks,
too numerous to list here, but listed on the Eagle.
Additionally, Jack, Duane and Brenda wish to thank the thousands of volunteers
and Guardians who made the 5 Honor Flights possible.
 
    Every effort has been made to include each and every person or group
who helped with this endeavor, but experience has taught us that try as we might,
we will miss someone, and we offer our sincere apologies if that be the case.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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