The credit union philosophy is deeply committed to giving back to the community, and Billings-area credit unions sponsored a public shred-a-thon on Saturday April 27 to raise funds for the Big Sky Honor flight (and help people safely dispose of their sensitive documents).
Royal Caraveau, vice president of lending at Altana FCU, said the local chapter of credit unions feels so strongly about the effort to take World War II Veterans to memorials back east that they are kicking off the fundraising effort with a $2,500 donation.
Caraveau was personally touched by the Big Sky Honor Flight because his grandfather, Ernie DeVries, was one the first flight. “It was a wonderful experience for him and so moving to see how the country has honored him and his service to this country,” he said about his grandfather.
The plan is to take every World War II Veteran who is physically able to travel to the memorials by the end of this year, says Vice Chair Bill Kennedy. He tells everyone that “time is of the essence” since more than 1,000 WWII Veterans die in the United States every day.
“I guess we’d have over 600 (veterans) when it’s all said and done,” said Kennedy, who also has been a Yellowstone County Commissioner for 21 years. “We are hoping to get everyone there this year, but if not, we’ll keep raising money until we get them all there.”
Dale Lamphear, a retired railroad employee from Laurel, was also on that first flight to visit memorials created solely to honor America’s heroes for their sacrifices.
“Seemed like we were greeted wherever we went, and it felt pretty good,” said Lamphear, who served in the Navy aboard the USS Pennsylvania, a battle wagon in the South Pacific from 1943 to 1946.
Lamphear and DeVries are two of 180 WWII Veterans who have taken the trip with 365 applicants in Montana on the list to go. The Treasure State is one of 33 states involved in honoring their war heroes with trips back east.
“It’s been such an honor to properly thank these veterans,” he said. “Seeing that Monument is a trip of a lifetime and often the last trip of their lives.”
The trip includes visits to the Lincoln, Vietnam, Korean, WWII, FDR, and Iwo Jima memorials as well as the Arlington National Cemetery. Fundraising is required because the trip is free to these soldiers. The cost to sponsor a veteran is $1,000.
The Midland Empire Chapter of Credit Unions is holding a public shred-a-thon on April 27 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Big Sky Federal Credit Union located at 990 Grand Ave. All donations received go directly to paying for these trips. As tax season wraps up, this is a perfect opportunity to properly discharge old documents.
To find out more about the trips visit www.bigskyhonorflight.org