UPDATE: Due to predicted unfavorable weather conditions, the "Mask a Vet" event originally planned for Saturday at Elton Hensley Memorial Park will take place Sunday instead. Volunteers will hand out reusable face masks to military veterans and Missouri National Guard participants from 1-3 p.m., and flights to bring masks to other parts of the state will depart at 1 p.m.
"Mask a Vet," a new campaign to provide free masks to military veterans, will launch this Saturday at Fulton's Elton Hensley Memorial Airport.
The effort is headed by the Columbia-based United States Exercise Tiger Foundation (USTF), which has partnered with Callaway County's Kingdom Pilots Association All Volunteers Group for this first outing. "Mask a Vet" aims to give away face masks to veterans all over Missouri in an effort to protect them from COVID-19. The program was made possible thanks to state funding, according to a news release.
"We will leave no veteran behind," said Susan Haines, USTF national and state director.
On Saturday morning, all Fulton and northern Callaway veterans, their family members and Missouri National Guards participants are welcome to come pick up a free five-pack of reusable cloth masks. All veterans should bring a DD214 form, VA card, separation papers or a relevant newspaper clipping to verify their status as a veteran. A total of 2,500 packs of masks will be available.
Also Saturday morning, Kingdom Pilots Association volunteer pilots will fly two "Pathfinder missions" to deliver masks to Pershing VA Hospital at Poplar Bluff and American Legion posts in Hannibal and Palmyra.
"We call these two missions 'Pathfinder' missions as they are the first 'Tiger Flight' mask missions," Haines said. "We will find out how it went and if it will need modifications for future missions."
Ted Forester, a veteran and Civil Air Patrol member, will lead the Poplar Bluff mission and deliver 10,000 masks for Missouri Bootheel-area vets. Dave Hollabaugh will pilot the Hannibal mission with a cargo of 5,000 masks.
Haines described this project as the "largest-ever humanitarian mission" for USTF and Kingdom Pilots Association.