Couple plans honor flight to Washington just for women

A Nebraska couple who have planned several honor flights to Washington for war veterans are organizing a new trip, this one just for women.

The Nebraska Female Veterans Flight is for women who served in the European or Pacific theaters during World War II, or during the wars in Vietnam, Korea, the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan or Iraq, said Bill and Evonne Williams.

Plans for the trip call for a charter aircraft with an all-female crew to fly 135 veterans, volunteer assistants, and media members — all women — to see the memorials in the nation's capital. The tentative date is Sept. 24.

"The tricky part is they have to have served in-country and not stateside," Bill Williams said, noting that it also may be difficult to find veterans from the earlier wars who are able to travel.

The trip is expected to cost about $175,000 including the jet, bus transportation, meals and other expenses, he said. The Williamses hope to raise that money by reaching out to companies and organizations led by women.

The couple has organized 11 honor flights since 2008, and taken nearly 3,400 Nebraska veterans to visit the monuments. There were no more than two dozen women on the previous flights, Bill Williams said.

Female veterans deserve recognition and appreciation for their roles, whether on the battlefield or far behind the lines, said Evonne Williams, who is president of the couple's Patriotic Productions company.

"I would venture that none received an actual homecoming celebration — like most of the men, especially from Vietnam," she said. "Whether they can go or not, to see their fellow veterans honored, they'll feel it, too. It should have been done earlier."

The Williamses aren't veterans but have four sons who have served in the military.