Honor Flight Maine Telethon update

Thank you to News Center Maine for hosting a virtual telethon on Nov. 17 to help fund our 2023 Mission to provide free trips for our veterans to Washington, D.C., to see and experience their national memorials.

Thank you to the people of Maine and beyond who called in to support our veterans and to the volunteers who gave many hours of their time to take calls. The telethon raised $175,282 in donations.

Both men and women, combat and non-combat veterans, are eligible for these free trips. To apply, please visit our website at honorflightmaine.org or call me, Joy Asuncion, Honor Flight Maine board of directors, at 930-5640 and I will help you by taking your application over the phone.

Please help us connect with our World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Cold War, Gulf War, and all Maine veterans.

Donations are still being accepted if you would like to support Honor Flight Maine’s 2023 Mission. You can visit our website at honorflightmaine.org to donate online, or you can mail your donation to Honor Flight Maine, P.O. Box 1770, Portland, ME  04104-1770.

Military Women’s Memorial 25th anniversary celebration

As your Maine state ambassador for our Military Women’s Memorial, it was an honor to participate in the Memorial’s 25th anniversary celebration events Oct. 14-16 in Arlington, Virginia. Ours is the only national memorial dedicated to honor all women who have served in the U.S. armed forces from the American Revolution to present-day active duty.

Our Military Women’s Memorial and Education Center honors the commitment, contributions and experiences of the three million women who have served. By registering, military women and families of women who have passed away can help us record and preserve stories that will otherwise be lost to history and unknown to future generations.  Her story matters.

Please contact me with any questions at 930-5640 or email joyasuncion@roadrunner.com. I would be happy to complete your registration over the phone for you, if you would like to call me, or you can register online at womensmemorial.org.

Army Week Association Empire Brigade Award

I was honored to be one of the recipients of the Empire Brigade Award at the Army Week Association Veteran’s Day Gala held Nov. 11 at the Union League Club in New York. I am very grateful to have been nominated by the leadership of the Military Women’s Memorial.

Pictured with other inaugural Empire Brigade Award recipients Nov. 11 is retired U.S. Navy veteran Joy Asuncion, fourth from right. On her right is political commentator and former U.S. Press Secretary Dana Perino, one of the civilian honorees. Jennifer A. Uihlein

During the American Civil War, the Empire Brigade was an army of volunteers from New York City, recruited, organized and led by Brig. Gen. Francis B. Spinola, himself a volunteer commissioned officer. These four regiments of volunteers from all five boroughs left their families, homes and New York to join the fight and assist in relief efforts across North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. Thousands of men volunteered to step into the breach to fight for their country and to protect their communities and their countrymen.

In what has been an extraordinary time, Army Week Association decided to honor service members from each branch of the our armed forces who embody that original Empire Brigade volunteer credo — fight for country, duty to fellow Americans, and honor to those who came before them and fought alongside them — with the inaugural AWA Empire Brigade Award. These honorees took the oath, donned the cloth of the United States of America and came home to be pillars of their communities, continue the fight for our military, veterans and their families.

U.S. Navy veteran Joy Asuncion holds her AWA Empire Brigade Award Nov. 11 in New York.

According to an Army Week Association statement, “We had the largest allied contingent on hand in our history; 10 countries including our newest NATO friends, the Swedes and Fins.” Empire Brigade Award honorees were: Elana Duffy, U.S. Army; Joy Asuncion, U.S. Navy; Gina Pollut, U.S.Marine Corps; Allison Ecung, U.S. Air Force; and civilians Heidi Olsen, Betsy Montanez and Dana Perino.

The association also gave a special Empire Brigade Award to Roman Horodensky, a Marine from the 36th Marine Brigade in Ukraine that fought and defended Mariupol and the Azovstal Plant from the Russian Invasion. On April 5, a 120mm shell exploded 5 meters from him, taking one of his arms and legs. His men got him to a bunker where he survived for a week without meds or painkillers. He was then captured by the Russians in the surrender of Mariupol, tortured for three weeks, and finally part of the prisoner exchange.

Horodensky is currently in Philadelphia for prosthetics and rehab. His only request about attending the gala was could he “meet some U.S. Marines,” so the master of ceremonies called up all the Marines in the room and they individually went to shake his hand and give him a hug.

Also attending was the U.S. veteran team leader of one of the “Army Week Wolverines” teams that has been fighting in Ukraine since February.

Proud son John Asuncion with his mother, Joy Asuncion, at the Army Week Association’s gala Nov. 11 in New York. Courtesy of Joy Asuncion

Wreaths Across America

Wreaths Across America Escort to Arlington National Cemetery will pass through Waldo County on Sunday, Dec. 11, traveling down Route 1 from the Penobscot Narrows Bridge to Belfast, and then turning onto Route 3 to China. The schedule calls for the caravan to stop at 9 a.m. at Maine Coast Mall in Ellsworth (no time given for departure from there), and then to arrive at 12:45 p.m. at Hannaford in China.

National Wreaths Across America Day will be Saturday, Dec. 17. Gates at Arlington National Cemetery will open at 8 a.m. for wreath-laying ceremonies beginning at 10 a.m. For more information, visit wreathsacrossamerica.org.

Joy Asuncion is a retired U.S. Navy veteran, Honor Flight Maine board member, Maine Troop Greeter and the Maine Ambassador for the Women in Military Service for America Memorial. Contact her at 930-5640 or joyasuncion@roadrunner.com.