Jim and Dawn Forbus honored for their volunteerism with Honor Flight veterans
By Steve Ranson
Nevada News Group
A Reno couple who have made Honor Flight Nevada their lifetime project received the Daughters of the American Revolution’s highest award for service to their country and to the nation’s veterans.
Denise Doring VanBuren, the 45th president general of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, presented the Medal of Honor awards to Dawn and Jim Forbus at the Nevada state convention dinner on Saturday in Carson City.
“Our Medal of Honor is the highest award we present,” VanBuren said.
VanBuren said about 50 Medal of Honor awards are presented annually. The DAR consists of 190,000 members from 3,000 chapters. She said recipients of the MOH rise to an exceptional level of service within their community.
“I was overjoyed to recognize them,” VanBuren said. “I am a Blue Star mother, daughter of a World War II Navy navigator knowing that there are retired civilians who ensure our veterans get to see their monuments and get to understand the benefits owed to them from a grateful nation.”
Honor Flight is a national program that relies on volunteers and donations to take veterans from World War II, the Koran War and Vietnam War to Washington, D.C. to see the memorials built in their honor. Honor Flight Nevada, however, has also taken veterans to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, to not only see the memorials but also to visit the aviation museum, several military installations, the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific and the battleship USS Missouri, where the Instrument of Surrender to end World War II was signed.
Carson City Mayor Lori Bagwell, state regent for Nevada and a member of the Battle Born Chapter, presented a short biography on each recipient. The local chapter nominated the couple.
“Dawn became involved in Honor Flight Nevada after he husband made his first trip in 2013,” Bagwell said. “She became hooked and has made Honor Flight Nevada her life work.”
Bagwell said Forbus processes applications for the local Honor Flight program and coordinates the details for each veteran.
“She assures the oldest and most fragile are placed on the soonest flight,” Bagwell said.
For each trip, Bagwell said Forbus works with 40 to 50 veterans on each flight and coordinates every detail, especially with the travel plans.
Marsha Strand, a member of the Battle Born Chapter, organized Quilt of Valor the same year she met Dawn Forbus in 2014. Since that time, Strand has been impressed with their volunteerism.
“She and her husband set up the Gold Star Family Tree in December in the Atlantis Hotel decorated with photos of the fallen sons and daughter,” Strand wrote in the nomination packet.
Strand said both Dawn and Jim Forbus have given their lives to help veterans.
Dawn Forbus said she was both shocked and humbled with the award. Their daughter and grandchildren surprised them by attending the dinner and presentation.
“It’s hard to hear somebody talking about you,” she said. “We do what we do and bless the people and we are blessed by them.”
During their time with Honor Flight Nevada, Dawn Forbus said everyone is amazing, and the work to take veterans to the nation’s capital is a team effort.
“We couldn’t do what we do without everyone else,” she added.
Bagwell said Jim Forbus, who had a long, distinguished career in law enforcement and retired as a lieutenant with the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office, made his first Honor Flight in 2014.
“The trip made a lasting impact on him, and since this time, he has made Honor Flight Nevada his life’s work,” Bagwell pointed out. “Jim Forbus also works with the local VA (Veterans Affairs) to ensure veterans are aware of services.”
Now, Jim Forbus handles logistics for each trip and handles all personal needs and veterans’ requests.
Bagwell said the Forbuses started a nonprofit calls Jim4Heroes, which recognized volunteers , veterans, first-responders, teachers and medical personnel and also assists them with housing needs.
Jim Forbus said he was surprised with the Medal of Honor award. The Battle Born Chapter told the Forbuses they were receiving a certificate for their volunteer work.
“We were surprised and over the top,” Jim Forbus said. “It’s a national award.”
He said the letters of recommendation written by close associates of the Forbuses were humbling.
Jim Forbus said he was impressed with Jon Yuspa’s direction with Honor Flight Nevada almost a decade ago. Yuspa is the founder and executive director of the Honor Flight program in Northern Nevada. “I thought this is something I’d like to be involved with for a long time.”
Yuspa said the Forbuses serve on the Board of Directors for Honor Flight Nevada and have donated hundreds of hours to the program. He commended the Forbuses for the Jim4Heroes program and how it has assisted with real estate transactions and earmarked a portion of each sale to Honor Flight Nevada.
“They used to say as a joke ‘They sell real estate to support their Honor Flight habit’ and now it is the truth,” Yuspa described in his recommendation letter.
Michael and Lindy Leonard, both Gold Star members who live in Reno, commended the Forbuses for their hundreds of hours of annual volunteer time to the veterans.
“Their participation is one of the prime reasons that Honor Flight Nevada has become a model for all other chapters in the United States,” they wrote in their letter of recommendation.
Steve Ward, a Gold Star father, said since meeting the Forbuses, he has seen their support for the veterans and Honor Flight Nevada.
“I have been involved with them through most of these projects, and their support is above and beyond,” Ward wrote in his nomination letter. “They seem to be at just about every event giving their finances, their love and dedication to all of us.”
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