The American Legion Post 203, a local non-profit organization will be hosting a GALA to benefit Honor Flight of Southern Colorado. The fundraising event, which is co-hosted by The Student Veterans of America Chapter at Colorado State University-Pueblo, will be held in the Occhiato Center ballroom on Feb. 7, 2015 from 4 to 11 p.m.
The Honor Flight is a non-profit organization that aims to send Southern Colorado veterans to memorials that represent the wars they fought in. They are placed in various parts of the world, including Washington, D.C. and Normandy.
DJ Parker, a Reserve Officers’ Training Corps student at CSU-Pueblo, believes it is important to help send these veterans to visit the memorials, especially those who served during World War II.
Parker, who is spending his third year majoring in criminology, said that he joined ROTC in order to become an officer in the U.S. Army. He wanted to gain knowledge and skills to help him succeed in and out of the army that he would not be able to get anywhere else.
“There’s not many of them left and after all these years, this may be their first and only chance to see these memorials, and the friends they lost, a last time,” Parker said.
Parker’s role in ROTC is as a Cadet MS3 consists of running the ROTC program and mentoring younger cadets.
“I think it’s a great cause to help these veterans because many of them may not be able to afford this experience on their own,” Parker said. “Any organization that helps give back to the people that sacrificed so much for us is a great one.”
Student Veteran Zachary Coolidge said the Honor Flight of Southern Colorado does a lot of great things for our older veterans who served in WWII, along with other veterans who served in a war.
“These men and women are getting older and definitely need to be remembered and allowed closure as an American who has served their country, the same one you and I live in,” Coolidge said.
Coolidge was in the army for 12 years and eventually became Staff Sergeant in Fairbanks, Alaska. He was assigned to the 1/25th SBCT as a Human Intelligence Collector Platoon Sergeant.
He has served at many duty stations, nationally and internationally, and served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
Coolidge is currently a senior majoring in mass communications with an emphasis in electronic media. He is also minoring in computer information systems with an emphasis in web development.
“WWII was in my opinion one of the worst wars, it had to have been a mentally and an emotionally wild roller-coaster. As a veteran who has fought in recent war, I couldn’t imagine the horrors of WWII so it’s important to send them to the memorials,” Coolidge said.
Student veteran Kenneth Pitts said he thinks more people should know about the Honor Flight, as it lets veterans know that citizens appreciate their service.
“It would help motivate the veterans to be more positive, make them feel like we appreciate them and their past efforts for serving,” Pitts said.
Pitts, a sophomore mathematics major served in the Unites States Air Force for three years at Moody Air Force Base in Georgia.
The event will consist of entertainers Reveille 3 and comedian Jeff Valdez.
Reveille 3 has been performing since 2009 and adds choreography to their vocal performances, consisting of songs performed by the Andrew Sisters, a close harmony singing group of the swing and boogie-woogie eras.
Valdez, a Pueblo native, spent time in his early career doing comedy, followed by producing media.
State Sen. Leroy Garcia will also be presented at the GALA as master of ceremonies, with Southern Colorado Honor Flight President Cesar Ochoa and CSU-Pueblo President Lesley Di Mare serving as speakers.
Tickets to the GALA are $25 per person and $300 for corporate tables. All proceeds of this event will be used toward sending veterans to visit their memorials. For more information regarding to the event contact Marie Manzanares at 719-250-1463, Dawn Wade at 719-582-3676 or Butch Chavez at 719-821-1211.
“These honorable people cared and fought for America. The Honor Flight allows a way for them to make peace with what they’ve gone through,” Coolidge said.