Local bikers help raise funds for Honor Flight

COLONIE, N.Y. – Some local bikers held a fundraiser Friday night to help send veterans to the World War II memorial in Washington, D.C.

The event was held at Spitzies to help raise funds for Honor Flight, a program that sends World War II veterans to visit their memorial, which didn’t open until 59 years after the war.

“Most of them have passed away, and the goal is to get them there to D.C. to see their memorial,” Patriot Guard Bill Schaaf said.

Ken Bailey, 92, is a World War II veteran. He rode to the event on a motorcycle.

“We never had this before,” he said. “It’s like a new world.”

Allan Atwell was in the thick of famous battles in the European Theatre before becoming part of the military police after falling victim to frost bite. He brought along his old MP helmet to collect money, so his fellow vets can see the memorial at no cost to them.

“It encourages them to stop and look at it, so we can encourage them to join us on a Patriot Flight,” he said.

But it’s not just the vets who benefit. The organizers do, too.

“It never gets old,” organizer Greg Furlong said. “It’s just a thrill to be a part of this.”

“It’s really invigorating to be around these guys from the greatest generation,” Schaaf said. “It’s humbling to be able to talk to them and get a better understanding of what they did. It’s a living oral history.”

And that’s the Honor Flight’s mission: to pay tribute to the veterans who made that history.

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