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'Honor Flight' World War II film shows in Oregon City

The number of World War II veterans in America is dwindling rapidly.

It’s estimated that nearly 1,000 veterans from the so-called Greatest Generation die each day.

That adds a tremendous amount of urgency to the work done by Grants Pass resident Gail Yakopatz, who heads the western Oregon hub of Honor Flight of Oregon, an offshoot of the national Honor Flight Network.

The network helps fund flights to Washington, D.C., for veterans around the country. As they visit the nation’s capital, they tour the World War II memorial and other sights, while enjoying the fellowship of fellow veterans.

“It’s overpowering for me to work with these guys,” said Yakopatz, the daughter of a veteran. “There are so many of them who haven’t spoken to their families about what they’ve done. I had one guy who was a POW for 14 months, and he said ‘now I can talk about it because I’ve been on this trip. I’ve been recognizing that it was a burden lifted.’ He had closure.”

Yakopatz helped form Honor Flight of Oregon in 2009 to give World War II veterans a chance to experience the type of welcome home most never received upon their discharge from the service.

“It’s like the movies, it’s the last mission,” Yakopatz said. “On my last trip in April (2012), I think my average age now is 90 to 91. So it’s getting harder for them to travel, and time is not on their side.”

It’s truly a labor of love for Yakopatz, who spends countless hours fundraising and organizing additional trips for Oregon veterans in Clackamas, Marion, Yamhill, Polk and Tillamook counties.

Now, she’s attempting to raise public awareness of a new documentary film by Freethink Media called “Honor Flight: One Last Mission.”

The movie follows four Wisconsin veterans on a 2011 Honor Flight. Their journey was turned into a moving story of camaraderie and fellowship by filmmakers Dan Hayes and Clay Broga.

It was first screened publicly last fall at Miller Park in Milwaukee, Wisc., in front of 28,000 enthusiastic viewers. Since then, the movie has gained a widespread audience and even garnered a submission for consideration for an Academy Award for best documentary.

“Honor Flight” is scheduled for upcoming screenings in Wilsonville and Oregon City. The first showing will be at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 5, at Regal Cinemas Stadium 9 Theater in Wilsonville. The following evening, also at 7:30 p.m., it will be shown at the Oregon City Regal Cinemas Hilltop 9 Movie Theatre.

Tickets are $12 and can be purchased at honorflightthemovie.com/see-the-film.




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