Saluting the Volunteers - KULR-8 Television, Billings, MT

Saluting the Volunteers

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BILLINGS -

Many of us are volunteers in our communities, but have you ever held a volunteer position that's more than a full-time job for two years, and then still worked at your real job? Thursday night, we honor the many volunteers who have been doing just that. They sacrificed a lot to make all nine Big Sky Honor Flights a reality for hundreds of veterans.

"When you made your commitment to volunteer for Big Sky Honor Flight, you really had to be all in, so we have been," said Big Sky Honor Flight board member Becky Hiller.

All in, very few breaks, no pay, lots of give, and little take. That's the job description, and it includes everything from loading and unloading equipment, to supplying water and lunch, to serving as a guardian, and to helper for hundreds of veterans.

"These guys are so worth it. I love coming on these and taking care of these veterans. They're amazing," said Dr. Larry Severa with the Big Sky Honor Flight medical team.

The volunteers are amazing too. Some of them have been on four Big Sky Honor Flights, others seven, and some have gone on all of them, but you'll never hear any of them complain.

"Days like this where it's hot and humid, we're pushing water quite a bit and we want to keep everybody hydrated. There's a lot of physical work involved, but it's all worth it," said Jim Woolyhand, a Big Sky Honor Flight volunteer.

"If we're not ready to thank them and close the last chapter on their life on World War II, then it was for naught," said Big Sky Honor Flight Vice President Bill Kennedy.

The best part of the job for the volunteers is the connections. Connections with each other, and of course with the veterans.

They hear stories the author of a book would never be able to tell them.

"It's a joy to come. It's an honor. Not very many people get a chance to do this or will do this. I'm truly blessed to be a part of this," said Big Sky Honor Flight board member Cory Moore.

They are thankful and they are tired, but they wouldn't have done it any other way.

"The power of community and love of people that have served and sacrificed is so very strong that nothing can stop that. My feeling is the same. People are saying they can't do the Korean. We can do it and they can do it," said Kathy Shannon, Big Sky Honor Flight Treasurer.

"When we first started, we said our goal is to fly until we have no more names left on the list. After nine flights and 755 veterans, we've done that," said Big Sky Honor Flight President Tina Vauthier.

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