VAN WERT — Our country is losing World War II veterans at an alarming rate, and Van Wert County Veterans Services Officer Barry Johns is leading an effort to gather local vets to participate in Honor Flight. The flights take groups of veterans to Washington D.C. to visit their monuments in the nation’s capital.

“I’m trying to get the World War II vets who haven’t seen their memorial to D.C. To see it, and to get the Korea and Vietnam veterans to sign up so they can get on the list and get a chance to go, and not waiting until the last minute and be left wishing they would have went,” stated Johns.

In the past, veterans from this area have departed from Toledo, Fort Wayne, and Dayton, but one option will not be available in 2015.

“There have been some rule changes with Toledo,” Johns reported. “Toledo is closing down after this year. Two of their flights are already booked. The April and May flights are already booked.”

That leaves only the June 18 flight and the Sept. 24 flight from Toledo. Johns is hoping to get several World War II vets from the area to take part in one of the flights. He wants to hear from locals by April 11.

“I have applications for volunteers, for caregivers, and for veterans,” he reminded.

Honor Flight originally catered exclusively to World War II veterans, but has been taking veterans of other conflicts to see their monuments over the past few years also. Although only World War II vets will be on the Toledo flights, Korean and Vietnam Vets will be put on the list in Dayton for future flights. The price for guardians has been dropped from $300 to $200, and approval is now required, but the opportunity to accompany a loved one is a priceless opportunity, according to Johns.

“Most people are amazed, but pretty much everybody says that it is really something to see,” he said. “I think that it’s their memorial for their time frame, and I really hope everybody gets to see it.”

Johns noted that he has no idea how many veterans from the area have taken an Honor Flight since those records in this county have not been kept. But he wants to remind vets to take advantage of the opportunity.

“Remember to get down to the Vets Office is you want to make this trip and get your application in,” Johns said.