PLATTSBURGH — The fifth and final North Country Honor Flight of 2019 will take off Saturday morning, heading for Washington, D.C. once again carrying some special honorees.
North Country Honor Flight #31 will be taking two World War II veterans, seven Korean War veterans and six Vietnam War veterans to visit their respective memorials in the nation's capital.
While each of the veterans on the flight has a great story to share from their time in the service, Ralph McClintock's story is especially riveting.
McClintock, of Williston, Vt., was on the USS Pueblo when it was captured by the North Koreans in the Sea of Japan in January of 1968.
The incident gained international attention as the crew was held as prisoners of war for 11 months and tortured as hostages.
Tensions between the U.S. and North Korea were heightened as officials looked for a peaceful resolution.
The USS Pueblo is still held by the North Koreans.
JAMIE LEE THURSTON
"What an amazing man he is," North Country Honor Flight Director Barrie Finnegan said.
"It is an incredible story of what he and those guys went through."
The Honor Flight send-off ceremony will start at 7 a.m. sharp at the Veterans Park on the US Oval.
Special guest Jamie Lee Thurston will be performing the National Anthem.
Country music entertainer Larry Ebert will also be performing “More than a name on the wall."
The traditional musical performances and the much-anticipated reading of the bios of each veteran are also expected.
Ebert is the sponsor of flight #31, as he raised more than $12,000 last May at his fundraiser held at Chazy Central School.
He will also be holding another Honor Flight fundraiser coming up next May.
"What a great guy he is," Finnegan said.
"He's going to be our co-director going on this flight."
After the send-off ceremony, the parade over to Plattsburgh International Airport will follow with the Honor Flight bus, the motorcycle and police escorts being saluted by many local fire departments on New York Avenue as well as what Honor Flight Director Barrie Finnegan hopes, are many well wishers and the North Country Mustang Club.
The flight is scheduled to leave at 9:30 a.m.
The return is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. and a welcome home celebration will be held at the airport.
All events are free and open to the public.
Finnegan said it seems that public support and interest in each Honor Flight continues to grow.
"Every flight we see it," he said.
"The crowds are getting bigger and we are getting calls from all over from people who want to support us. It's just great to see, and it is very heart-warming."
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