Hard work, dedication lead to lasting memories for the men behind Honor Flight Nevada

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Updated: 5/12/2014 2:04 pm
RENO, Nev. (MyNews4.com & KRNV) -- The idea of Honor Flight started ten years ago in Ohio, with one man, one veteran and one airplane. Now thousands of veterans across the country get to see their memorials each year.

Honor Flight Nevada is in its third year, and it would not be possible without the dedication of two very hardworking men. They are another reason we're Nevada Proud.

"Honor Flight has evolved to, we don't just take them on a trip and say goodbye to them," said Jon Yuspa. "It's become this family of hundreds of veterans and their extended family."

Jon Yuspa founded Honor Flight Nevada, and he has personally taken more than a hundred veterans on the trip of a lifetime.

"He's been an entrepreneur as long as I've known the guy," said Barbara Starr.
As Yuspa's mother, Barbara Starr knows him pretty well. She has been a guardian on each of his honor flights. "I'm so pleased to be here to honor my son as well, for wanting to do all of this."
"Without him we never would have known what this program was," said Michael Gunny Rios. "It's been a blessing for all of the veterans and everybody that gets to be a part of this."
Co-Chair Michael Gunny Rios is Yuspa's partner in crime. "He's the brother I never wanted," Yuspa joked.

"It's kind of funny cause we have our good times and then we have our brother times. Man if I get you," Gunny joked right back.

That humor helps them through long hours and hard work. "Probably next week, we'll finish up the After Action report, and start planning for our next one," said Gunny.

"It takes four to six months to raise the money and then it takes about two months to plan," revealed Yuspa.
It is non-stop, and getting busier. Yuspa said it has become a full-time passion.

We put in alot of hours collectively on this," said Gunny. "Many hours collectively, but it's all worth it."

Starr said they work well as a team. "I think without Gunny maybe Jon couldn't even do as much. I think the symbiotic relationship has gotten to that point."
They do it for the veterans, and the vets say it means more to them than Jon or Gunny could ever know.

"They do a fabulous job," said Joseph Salinas.

"I just can't say enough for them," said Frank Richer. "They're wonderful people. They go out of their way to give us all this service. I wish there was more people like them."
"Oh wonderful. Gunny couldn't be better," gushed George Wendell. "He's a top notch, top kid."
"They are fantastic. Everything that they have been doing and all the work that goes into it," added Erwin Powell.

Starr is proud to see her son making a difference. "Even though it's hard work, it's a privilege. It's a great privilege."
And it is changing their lives. "I tell people I moved to Nevada three years ago and I didn't have any family," said Yuspa. "Now I have 300 grandparents that wherever I go, I bump into somebody I can get a hug from."

Jon and Gunny did not know we were doing this story. They are very humble men, and want the attention on the veterans not on them.

But these trips could not happen without them, so we wanted to thank them for what they do for our veterans.
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