Midwest Honor Flight: Elsie Van Beek looks back on a memorable trip with veterans

Published: Jun. 1, 2023 at 5:09 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Wednesday was the 15th Mission of the Midwest Honor Flight, and 83 veterans and their guardians were flown out to Washington, DC for the day to receive a warm welcome home.

In February, Dakota News Now caught up with 15-year-old Elsie Van Beek as she was raising money to sponsor Flight 15 by selling cupcakes.

Her brother Aaron is the founder and CEO of the Midwest Honor Flight, and when Elsie told him she wanted to go on a flight, he jokingly told her that she could go if she raised $50,000 to sponsor a flight.

She raised $85,000 through numerous honors and gifts from veterans and their families over the course of the day. She got plenty of thank-you’s from veterans and even strangers who heard her story passing by in DC. She says her experience exceeded her expectations.

”It made me feel like ‘wow, I did this’ because all these veterans, people who have fought for our country so that we could be free, are thanking me when they deserve nothing less than a ‘thank you’,” Van Beek said. “They were so sweet the whole day and I got to hear some of their stories. This Honor Flight has brought them the closure and the healing that they needed. It was a really touching day. I cried a lot.”

Elsie said she plans on raising more money to hopefully sponsor another flight in the future.