Ashton Charles wrote -
The mission of Honor Flight South Florida is to send World War II Veterans to their WWII memorial in Washington, D.C. at no cost to the veteran. The memorial was built sixty years after the conclusion of the war, and many are not capable of getting to the memorial.
The Honor Flight Network is comprised of over 144 hubs across the nation. From top to bottom, Honor Flight is entirely voluntary. There are zero salaries and no administrative costs. All funds raised go completely to getting the veterans in the air. Honor Flight South Florida had its inaugural flight on October 27th, 2013. On this particular flight, I was priviledged to go as the Guardian for WWII Navy Veteran, Frank Mazzarella.
The friendship Frank and I formed has forever transformed my life. While on average 1,000 WWII Veterans die each day, I selfishly felt as though my sweet friend had at least a decade of life left despite being ninety years young.
Frank was vibrantly energetic and full of life. An avid sports fan, dapper dresser and ultimate family man, he positively impacted each person that was lucky enough to meet him. After our trip to Washington, true to form, Frank wanted to give back to the organization. He gave more than ten presentations to school children across Broward County to raise awareness for Honor Flight South Florida where he was treated like a celebrity.
On Thursday, December 18th, 2014, I received the most shocking phone call of my life. His daughter Lisa was on the other line and delivered the tragic news that our dear Frank unexpectedly passed away the previous night.
The love that Frank gave his family and friends was unparalleled. Marc and I joined Honor Flight together in 2013. Meeting Frank has given us an inspiration to live our lives together as Frank and his beloved wife, Gloria did. Gloria passed away four years ago, and every person that I spoke to at his wake and at the funeral was the same: a joyful image of a reunited Frank and Gloria dancing to an old, Italian love song.
In Frank's Honor, I am pledging to raise $10,000 for Honor Flight South Florida not only to allow more Veterans to take the flight, but to also forge more beautiful friendships with these cherished heroes, as well. I hope to raise $10,000 by Frank's 91st birthday.
At Frank's wake, his granddaughter, Annie, told me that he already pruchased a brand new suit for Marc's and my wedding. It shattered heart that I would not get to dance with my friend at the wedding in person, but I know he will be there in spirit.
He was a master of all things and was a firece friend.
The morning of our Honor Flight to Washtington, D.C. Frank confided in me that he always thought the World War II Veterans were the forgotten veterans. With your help, we can show these members of the greatest generation just how cherished they truly are.