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Stars and Stripes Honor Flight teams up with Packers, Brewers and Bucks to honor veterans with 2023 Flight of Champions


The Green Bay Packers, Milwaukee Brewers and Milwaukee Bucks are teaming up to sponsor three planeloads of local veterans on Stars and Stripes Honor Flight's 71st mission, the "Flight of Champions" scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023.

The three flights will honor a total of 221 WWII, Korean War and Vietnam War veterans from northeast, southeastern and east central Wisconsin with a one day, all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. to visit the memorials built in their honor and to experience a full day of honor and thanks for their service to our nation.

"We are honored to be a part of this historic mission with the other pro sports teams from Wisconsin," stated Green Bay Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy. "While we play different sports, we all have great respect for those who have served, and are serving, in our military. We couldn't be more excited to be asked to play a small role in ensuring these veterans, who are American heroes, have a great day in D.C."

Early in the morning of Oct. 7, a plane of veterans, guardians and Green Bay Packers alumni will depart from Green Bay's Austin-Straubel International Airport. Simultaneously, two planeloads of veterans, guardians and representatives from the Milwaukee Brewers and Milwaukee Bucks, will depart from Milwaukee's Mitchell International Airport. Packers Alumni on the Green Bay flight include Bill Schroeder, Dexter McNabb, and Jared Abbrederis.

When the three planes arrive at Washington Dulles International Airport on flight day, the veterans, their guardians and team representatives will spend the day touring Washington. The tour will include the WWII Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Marine Corps/Iwo Jima Memorial and the Changing of the Guard at Arlington National Cemetery.

"We are thrilled to welcome our veterans, guardians and representatives of the Packers, Brewers and Bucks to this once-in-a-lifetime journey," said Karyn Roelke, President of Stars and Stripes Honor Flight. "It is an honor and a privilege to finally thank this large group of local veterans who sacrificed so much, and we are thrilled to have the support and participation of our three favorite sports teams."

"It is a great honor to once again support the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight as we accompany veterans in their Flight of Champions experience," said Brewers President of Business Operations Rick Schlesinger.

"We know this will be a memorable and unique experience for both the honored veterans and all of us at the Brewers. We look forward to continuing our commitment alongside the Packers and Bucks in supporting the brave men and women who have proudly served our country."

Veterans that are currently scheduled to be honored on the Flight of Champions include seven female Veterans from the Vietnam and Korean Wars, two WWII veterans who are in their late 90s, several pairs of brothers, a husband-and-wife pair of veterans and a group of three brothers flying with their cousin.

"So many of our Vietnam War and Korean War veterans came home to disinterest, or to a hostile reception," Roelke said. "What an honor it will be to finally welcome them home properly and hopefully replace some of those difficult memories with positive ones."

Assistant Brown County Veterans Service Officer Matthew Franklin agreed. "This honor and validation from the community, Packers, Brewers and Bucks will encourage even more veterans

to sign up for these flights and encourage them to seek out their VA benefits from their local County and Tribal Veterans Service Offices."

"We thank our family, friends and neighbors for their bravery and sacrifice and dedicating their lives to protecting us," said Peter Feigin, President – Milwaukee Bucks and Fiserv Forum. "The Milwaukee Bucks are proud to team up with the Packers and Brewers to create a memorable trip and experience for those who served so courageously in our military."

The final fall 2023 Stars and Stripes Honor Flight will take place on Saturday, Nov. 4. When that flight is complete, Stars and Stripes Honor Flight will have flown 9,477 Veterans on the one-day, free trips of honor to Washington D.C. (since 2008). Stars and Strips has also honored 50 veterans locally who were not able to participate in the flights. As an all-volunteer organization with no paid staff and no offices, the organization is proud to share that more than $.97 of every donated dollar goes directly to flying and honoring veterans.

Honor Flight is a national program with more than 130 hubs from coast to coast. The WWII Memorial did not open until 2004 and many veterans are unable to visit Washington without assistance. Nationally, hubs in the Honor Flight network have honored over 250,000 veterans with free trips to see their memorials.

The Packers' participation in the Honor Flight is part of the team's Salute to Service initiative, presented by Fleet Farm, which recognizes and expresses gratitude to military members and veterans for their service to the country. A league-wide program in conjunction with recognition of Veteran's Day, the Salute to Service program includes fundraising opportunities, discounts for military members and veterans, player and alumni visits with those who have served, and gameday features in November. More information will be shared in the coming weeks regarding the 2023 Salute to Service initiative.

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