Flying Veterans Since 2008

Greater St. Louis Honor Flight is a 501 c 3 organization, whose mission is to safely transport America’s most senior Veterans to Washington, D.C., to experience the memorials built in their honor. We are dedicated to these heroic men and women having one of the best days of their life

Our Volunteers and team have safely honored more than 2500 local veterans. This experience is provided at zero cost to our veterans. Each Veteran travels with a Guardian, who insures not only their safety but also that their experience is profound and fulfilling

Our Day of Honor

Highlights of our one-day trip include visits to the World War II Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, and the Vietnam Memorial. We visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery and also the Lincoln Memorial, and many other surprises along the way

Celebrating Their Service

Everywhere we go, civilians take time to acknowledge and honor the men and women on our trips. Our Welcome Home celebration is unrivaled in its patriotic enthusiasm. Many of our cherished Veterans say, “That was the best day of my life.”

The National Honor Flight Network

The Honor Flight program was conceived by Earl Morse, a Physician Assistant and Retired Air Force Captain, to honor Veterans he took care of for over 27 years. Honor Flight originated in 2005 with six small planes flying 12 World War II veterans from Springfield, OH to Washington, D.C.. In 2006, with an ever-expanding waiting list of veterans, commercial airline carriers were used to accommodate as many honorees as possible, as quickly as possible. Partnering with HonorAir in Henderson, NC, the “Honor Flight Network” was formed and began rapid program expansion across the nation.

Stories of our Service

Frequently Asked Questions

Veterans are placed on the waiting list on a first-come, first-served basis according to the following priorities: World War II veterans and terminally ill veterans of any conflict, followed by Korean War and then Vietnam War veterans.

Guardians are generally selected by the veterans, and are usually members of the veteran’s family. Every veteran must have a guardian. If the veteran does not have a guardian, we have volunteer guardians who will accompany him/her. Guardians must be between the ages of 18 and 64 years of age, must be able to lift 100 pounds, and be able to walk 5 miles pushing a wheelchair. Spouses of veterans are not eligible to be guardians. Guardians must pay their own way, which is currently $600, and must attend a mandatory training session prior to the flight.

The Honor Flight experience comes at no cost to the veterans. All expenses are paid, with the exception of any souvenirs he/she may wish to purchase. Flights are funded by donations from individuals, corporations, foundations and other groups who wish to be an important part of honoring these heroes. Guardians pay their own trip expenses, which is currently $600. Click here to pay your Guardian Fee.

Donations are graciously accepted.   Click Here to Donate

Volunteers are critical to the success of Greater St. Louis Honor Flight. We simply could not fulfill our mission without the time and talents of a great many good-hearted men and women. Our volunteers assist in a myriad of ways, on flight days and throughout the year. If you’re interested in becoming part of our team, please fill out the Volunteer Application.

We take a wheelchair for every veteran on every flight, for their use if needed during the trip.

If a Veteran requires oxygen, their health care provider or medical supplier will provide an FAA approved oxygen concentrator with extra batteries, along with other prescription details and requirements. Oxygen cylinders to be used while in D.C. will be provided. However, veterans are responsible for providing oxygen for use from home to Lambert Airport in the morning and from Lambert to home in the evening.

Greater St. Louis Honor Flight is part of the Honor Flight Network whose governing board establishes general protocols, policies and credentialing, maintains a national website and oversees several programs. Greater St. Louis Honor Flight has an independent board composed of many St. Louis-area individuals, many of them business-owners, all dedicated to the success of the mission to bring our World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War veterans to Washington, D.C. for a day of honor.

Help Fund Our Mission

Help Fly a Veteran

This is your chance to honor those that have sacrificed so much for our great nation. We cannot do it without your help and appreciate your support. 

Our Board of Directors

Harry Hope, Chairman Emeritus

Harry Hope is the inspirational leader of Greater Saint Louis Honor Flight.  He guides our way and also maintains more relationships with Veterans and Veterans organizations than can be imagined.  Aptly named, Harry Hope is why we exist.  Our annual Volunteer of the Year award is named “The Hope Award” in his honor.

Harry joined the Navy on his 16th birthday in 1947. In February of 1948, Harry transferred to the U.S. Marine Corps and was sent to Paris Island, N.C. for his recruit training. While in the Marine Corps, he served in the Mediterranean Sea area visiting Italy, France, Turkey and Greece.

While in France, Harry’s battalion was sent to Korea where he was involved in the Inchon Landing and the retaking of Seoul. In November and December of 1950, Harry’s unit was trapped for three weeks in the “Chosin Reservoir” area of North Korea, 78 miles from the coastal city of Hungnam. After Korea, Harry spent two years in Japan. Having spent ten years in the Marine Corps, Harry was discharged in 1958 due to injuries suffered in Korea.

Harry lives in Creve Coeur with his wife Terry.

Chris Connell, Chair

Chris first become involved in the organization in 2015 and has served as Flight Leader numerous times.  His passion and loyalty for the military and veterans have led him to the Greater St. Louis Honor Flight organization.  Chris is a former Air Force officer and graduate of the United States Air Force Academy.  While at the Academy he played football from 1988-1992 and culminated with a visit to the White House receiving the Commander in Chief trophy from President George Bush Sr. in the spring of 1992.  After graduating from the Air Force Academy in 1992 he split his service time in the 58th Fighter Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base, FL and Academy.  After fulfilling his commitment to the Air Force he began working at Merrill Lynch in the Wealth Management Group in 1997.  Chris has been at Merrill Lynch for over 25 years and currently serves as a Senior Vice President helping his clients meet their financial goals.

Chris and his wife, Stephanie, live in St. Louis and have two girls who share the same patriotic spirit.

Brig Gen (ret) Darren James, Vice Chair

Darren joined Greater St. Louis Honor Flight in 2021. He recently completed a distinguished 30-year career in the United States Air Force, receiving his commission from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1990. He commanded Air Force units at the Squadron, Wing and Air Expeditionary Wing levels. He served in multiple operational and training assignments and was a command pilot having logged more than 6,000 hours in the C-5, C-17, KC-135, T-1A, T-37, B-1, B-52H, RC-135 and E-8.

He is deeply honored and considers it a great privilege to be a member of the GSLHF Board, having the opportunity to serve our heroic Veterans and the families that also served alongside their loved one. The dedication of the GSLHF organization and the crucial support it provides, as well as the opportunity to engage with the incredible Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines that so proudly served our nation is what led him to serve in this capacity.

Darren and his wife, Melissa, have two children.

Becky Claas, Treasurer

Both of Becky’s grandfathers served in the military so her appreciation of Veterans began at an early age. In addition to being a Board member, she is also Flight Leader Captain.

Becky is the CFO for Duggan Contracting, a proud supporter of Honor Flight and many other organizations that support our Veterans. Becky also active in the St. Charles Rotary Club, Spirit of St. Louis Airshow and serves on the Enterprise Bank Treasury Management Advisory Board.

Becky and her husband Scott, along with their daughter Paisy, live in St. Peters. Outside of work Becky enjoys attending her daughter’s sporting events, snow skiing, hiking and golf

Jeff Ancel, Director

Jeff Ancel, continued working for and with Greater St. Louis Honorflight getting involved in a coding marathon back in 2014 that helped produce online applications, flight scheduling tracking for our Veterans and continues to provide patches, fixes and enhancements. His flight notification system has helped guide Guardians and Volunteers while in Washington, D.C. He will continue to focus on keeping us safe, secure and informed while flying. Jeff will continue to provide our organization with technical expertise and common solutions to the ever emerging and evolving technical market.

Jeff’s drive for our Veterans goes deep in his past with his best friend and “Papa”, who was a Sergeant Major in the Air Force for over 30 years. Jeff, Lani and their family relocated to the Midwest to work in the defense sector. Their family love’s game days at Mizzou, sports in general and Jeff has been known to frequent the Cornhole leagues around St. Louis.

Carson Baur, Director

Carson Baur has been the strength of the GSLHF Board since 2011, chairing it for 3 years during its rapid development into one of the finest hubs in the nation.  Carson has led more than 30 Honor flights.  Carson’s focus is veteran safety, operational excellence and staying true to the mission “to safely transport America’s most senior veterans to Washington DC to experience the memorials built in their honor.”

Carson has been in the commercial real estate business for 16 years and is involved in several small business start-ups. Carson has been an active supporter of City Academy, Ladue Education Foundation, MICDS and St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

Carson and his wife, Martha, have three children.

Dr. Lynne Nowak, Director

Dr. Lynne Nowak is an internal medicine physician who spent 15 years in clinical practice in outpatient primary care, inpatient hospital care, and hospice/palliative care. She now leads the Evernorth Clinical Data and Provider Solutions team which uses data, technology, and analytics to improve clinical outcomes and healthcare affordability. Dr. Nowak also leads Evernorth’s teams focused on physician engagement, health information interoperability, utilization management, and transparency in pricing. She is Medical Director of the Evernorth Innovation Lab and serves as co-chair of the Cigna Clinical Leadership Development Program and leads the Express Scripts Medical Advisory Board.

Dr. Nowak received her undergraduate degree at the University of Notre Dame, her M.D. degree at the University of Illinois, Chicago, College of Medicine, and her Internal Medicine training at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN.

Dr. Nowak and her husband Ed have twin daughters, Sarah and Emily, who are both students at the University of Notre Dame. She loves to travel, cook, entertain, hike, hunt, boat, and spend time with her Great Dane/Black Lab mix, Walter. Dr. Nowak’s grandfather, uncle, and father-in-law all proudly served in U.S. Navy, and her daughter Sarah is currently in the Navy ROTC program at Notre Dame with hopes of becoming a Navy pilot.

Tom Sheehan, Director

Tom joined the GSLHF Board of Directors in 2017.  He is profoundly grateful for the opportunity to serve and honor our local veterans, whose sacrifice is the basis for the freedom we all continue to enjoy.

Tom is an attorney and serves as Associate General Counsel for Deloitte.  He was also a founding member of Gateway Children’s Charity, an organization committed to providing access to early childhood education for underserved communities in St. Louis.

Tom and his wife Alison have two sons.

Chris Shepherd, Director

With a grandfather who served in WWII and a father-in-law who was a doctor in a field hospital in Korea, Chris has long recognized the debt and gratitude owed to our Veterans. During his first honor flight, he saw firsthand the powerful effect the journey had on the Veterans on the flight and on those accompanying the Veterans as well. This ignited a passion within him to help continue and expand the mission to reach as many other Veterans and their families as possible.

Chris is a commercial lines and benefits insurance broker, helping companies navigate the world of Risk Management and Employee Benefits. He is currently a Senior Vice President with Assured Partners, having worked with the same company, through several mergers and acquisitions, since 1999.

Chris and his wife Cindy live in St. Louis with their three children. An avid sports fan, he spends much of his free time coaching his kids’ teams and supporting their activities. Chris enjoys giving back to the community and is honored to be part of this organization.

Rolando Lopez, Flight Director

While working at Southwest Airlines, Rolando was honored to have participated on many Honor Flights. His team coordinated their every need, including the one special salute Veterans appreciated, their “Water Cannon Salute” honoring their service.

Rolando joined the GSL Honor Flight as a Guardian in 2009, honored to have been a Guardian on several flights and continue a relationship with the Veterans. In 2010, Southwest Airlines recognized his community service and participation with GSL Honor Flight.

In early 2011, Rolando retired from Southwest Airlines to spend more time with his family and continue with volunteer work. Rolando was honored to be invited to assist GSL Honor Flight where he now serves as Flight Director.

Our Sponsors

We’re grateful to all sponsors and without these organizations, our day wouldn’t be possible. Thank you!

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