Soldiers'Angels Salutes Veterans' Airlift Command

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Soldiers' Angels applauds and salutes Veterans' Airlift Command (VAC), a Minnesota-based non-profit group that provides free flights for wounded warriors, veterans and their families for medical treatments or other "compassionate purposes." The priority is on the veterans of Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan). As capacity allows, our mission will expand to veterans of other wars and their families.

I know what it's like to be recovering in a hospital 700 miles from home

Soldiers' Angels applauds and salutes Veterans' Airlift Command (VAC), a Minnesota-based non-profit group that provides free flights for wounded warriors, veterans and their families for medical treatments or other "compassionate purposes." The priority is on the veterans of Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan). As capacity allows, our mission will expand to veterans of other wars and their families.

The group was founded in 2006 by Walt Fricke, who was wounded while flying a helicopter in Vietnam in 1968. "I know what it's like to be recovering in a hospital 700 miles from home," he said. Fricke originally thought it would be a "little shuttle service." But he decided to make it a national program and began recruiting pilots across the country. He now has over 200 pilots and 200 plus airplanes, with a goal of having 1,000 planes across the country by the end of 2007. The motto of the organization is aptly voiced, "Wounded Veterans, they've got heart...they need wings."

Billy and Christopher Ball, pilots from Jacksonville, Fla., who flew the inaugural flight, of an injured Marine from Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, N.C. to his home in Florida, said "flying one of our service members home is the least we can do."

"We are delighted to do it," said Christopher Ball. "It doesn't matter what you think about the war; they are heroes. They deserve to be supported without question."

"It's payback for their service, Fricke said.

"Having been through the Vietnam experience, our generation paid a tremendous price in lack of honor and respect," he said. "But ,in retospect the price was well worth paying if it means this next generation will be honored for their service."

VAC recruits and utilizes private or corporate aircraft and volunteer pilots for their missions. Many of the aircraft owners who volunteer with VAC are also pilots who welcome the opportunity to perform a valuable service while at the same time maintaining their aviation proficiency.

Fricke said they are looking Aircraft Owners around the nation with an immediate focus on the majoe Military Hospital areas such as BAMC, Walter Reed, Madigan and any housing our Military Heroes.

"As a wounded war veteran, I know first hand how important the support of your family is in your recovery. It was only through my faith, the skill and determination of the medical staff and the loving support of my family that I was able to recover from my injuries. For those soldiers and their families who sacrifice so much for our great nation, an organization like VAC is a Godsend." Says Senator Bob Dole the Honorary Chairman, National Advisory Board Veterans Airlift Command.

Those interested in finding out more about Veterans' Airlift Command can log on to http://www.veteransairlift.org. Pilots interested in volunteering can find applications online, and wounded service members in need of a flight can make a travel request by going online or calling (866) 784-8917.

Soldiers' Angels is a non-profit organization that provides ongoing support to our deployed troops through letter-writing campaigns, care packages and more. We support Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen deployed throughout the world defending and protecting the freedoms we cherish. For more information about Soldiers' Angels please visit the web site at http://www.soldiersangels.org or call 615-676-0239.

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