Bill Kennedy, now president and CEO of the Montana State University Billings Foundation, was one of the founders of the Big Sky Honor Flight in 2011. In 2013 he was named the Association of Fundraising Professionals' Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser for his work in raising more than $1 million for the program.
Kennedy estimated there was $90,000 left in the account at the Montana Community Foundation when the flights ended in 2014. Some $10,000 of it was sent to the Honor Flight Network to help pay for flights for individual Montanans such as Red Riemann. The rest is in limbo.
“The board decided we would ask national if (the interest) could be used for endowments or scholarships for veterans to go back to school," Kennedy said this week. "They told us legally we couldn’t use it except for its original intent.”
The foundation board is seeking an opinion from Attorney General Tim Fox on the matter. Since the money was raised specifically to send World War II veterans to D.C., it can’t be used to seed the revival of an Honor Flight hub in Montana that includes those from later wars. But such a hub isn’t out of the question.
“I think if we do a Vietnam flight in future years, it may take a couple of years to find some folks interested in it, and it may have to be a flight where people have to see a little bit of the expense," Kennedy said. "Before, people just wrote checks and said they wanted to send these guys back there.”