The Honor Flight of Southern Indiana has decided to postpone trips to Washington, D.C. until next year.
This is the fourth flight the organization has had to cancel since the pandemic hit.
The board made the tough call after considering a plethora of factors brought on by the rising COVID-19 cases.
Along with the rapidly spreading COVID-19 delta variant, Vice President Diane Shaw said mask and vaccine mandates were taken into consideration.
"It is a difficult decision, and we know people are disappointed. The board is disappointed. But we want the veterans to have their best Honor Flight," said Shaw.
If they had gone ahead with the trip scheduled for October, it would not have included a veteran-favorite.
"The welcome home parade which is such a well-attended event by the community," explained Shaw. "To come out to the airport we would have 2,500 to 3,000 people inside the airport cheering on these veterans when we got home."
But the Evansville Regional Airport has already told HFSI the crowds wouldn't be welcome this year because of the level of infection in Vanderburgh County.
There were also several roadblocks to consider once the group got to D.C. In a normal year, the U.S. National Parks Service provides a police escort for the four-bus motorcade that travels from monument to monument. But due to a lack of staff, the parks service has told HFSI it can't guarantee the group would have an escort this fall.
"That is such a critical element," continued Shaw. "It gets us from Point-A to Point-B in such a short amount of time and we are trying to put so much into that day. You have got to have that police escort."
Add to that, the parks service recently started a massive renovation project on the Korean War Memorial.
"Most of the veterans on the flights served during the Korean War. So they wouldn't be able to fully experience that memorial," said Shaw.
Both the board and volunteers remain hopeful that they will fly again. Their new goal is to take off in the Spring of 2022.
"I believe in prayers. In the power of prayer. We need the Tri-State community, just to start praying," said Shaw. "Go get vaccinated; go get fully vaccinated."
In the meantime, the organization will be working on a couple of special events that will be held locally to recognize our veterans. HFSI will be releasing more information as those plans come together.