Effort Underway To Create North Central Iowa Honor Flight Chapter - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Effort Underway To Create North Central Iowa Honor Flight Chapter

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CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL)

Just two days after a Honor Flight sent Eastern Iowa World War II Veterans to Washington, D.C., an effort is an effort is underway to create a North Central Iowa Honor Flight Hub, utilizing the Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids. crhonorflight@mchsi.com.

This week's Honor Flight was made possible through the donations of the Linn County Community who donated over $32,000.00 and facilitated by Honor Flight of the Quad Cities. To mobilize the community I believe it is necessary to give them ownership of this endevour. The Quad Cities is a recognized Hub of the National organization.  They have access to all the National connections for the charter buses, wheelchairs, food services which are not accessible to us until we are established with National. The Quad Cities provided us a wonderful opportunity for our veterans. They have a wonderful organization, a spirit of helpfulness and are dedicated to getting all World War II veterans to the memorial.  The experience they have gained through sending 4 previous honor flights through the Quad Cities was invaluable to me. Bob Morrison and Terry Dell have indeed grasp the concept of "mutual helpfulness, says Mary Clapp, Commander of American Legion Post 298 in Marion.

Mary says the first order of business will be finding dedicated volunteers to serve on the local board. You can find out more about this new, Honor Flight effort by contacting Legion Post 298 http://www.ialegion298.org/  or going online for more information at:  crhonorflight@mchsi.com

"Many thoughts from years ago. It was tremendous---Everything was handed perfectly and to perfection," says Floyd Shaffer, one of the forty six Iowa World war II Veterans who made the Honor Flight to Washington, D.C.  "A lot of memories of guys I soldiered with, like my Sergeant and my gunners, who were killed overseas. Everything was handled great. The only thing a little disappointing was that it got dark on us."

Charles 'Chick' Atkinson made the Honor Flight with his daughter, Kathleen Garrett, as his Guardian. A Guardian is assigned to every Honor Guard participant. 

Says Chick, I'm glad she's here. I really appreciate her coming with us, and her wanting to come here."

"I get to share something with him that you know is something special," says Kathleen, as she talks about her Dad's service to the United States. "He just accepted it, because he thought that was just something everybody else did. He's finding out how much everyone has appreciated the World War II Vets."

Chick adds, "It's bigger and better than I ever anticipated, I'll put it that way."

Prior to the Honor Flight, the Eastern Iowa World War II veterans packed American Legion Post 298 in Marion to receive final instructions for an emotional mission--a flight honoring them for their service to the United States.           

Forty six Iowa Veterans will be part of a day-long Honor Flight to visit the World War II Memorial and other war memorials in Washington, D.C. Now in their eighties, most of these Iowa Veterans were just teenagers or barely in their twenties, when they went into battle in World War II. They fought to preserve peace and save the world from the grip of Axis oppression. Tens of thousands of Iowans were involved in the biggest battles of World War II, from the beaches at Normandy to the thirty-five-day battle for Iwo Jima.

Phil Thomas, of Waterloo, will be on the Honor Flight Tuesday. Phil is 85 and is still active in the American Legion. He recalls one night when he was on deck watch in the South Pacific. He thought, for sure, his U.S. Navy ship would be sunk by a Japanese torpedo. Phil says he could do nothing, but watch the torpedo coming toward his ship.

Says Phil, "I thought, here's the end of the ship, but nothing happened. I ran to the other side of the ship and I could se the torpedo wake going away to the other side. They had set it too deep. It would have caught most ships, but ours was a small one."

The Tuesday trip is being made possible, thanks to Honor Flight of the Quad-Cities, http://www.honorflightqc.com/ that’s a local chapter of the National Honor Flight Network. http://www.honorflight.org/

As Bob Morrison of Honor Flight of the Quad-Cities points, out "There are not many left. They are dying at a rate of about one thousand a day. What happens is they have been holding things in for sixty years, if you think about it. It's overwhelming to them and they're not looking for anything special, but when they get it, it is very special."

Mary Clapp of the American Legion Post 298 in Marion  http://www.ialegion298.org/  says the trip is possible, only because of the generous donations of Eastern Iowa individuals and businesses. Mary says, "We had to raise $ 32,000 in just three weeks. At first people did not believe we could raise the kind of money we needed to raise in three weeks. People didn't get their hopes up, but once we had raised the money, there was a period of excitement, enthusiasm and anticipation."

Each Iowa World war II Veteran will be accompanied by a special guardian to watch over them. In some cases, a son or daughter, but the guardians pay their own way on Honor Flight.

Mary says it's hoped Linn County might become a local hub for Honor Flight, just like the Quad-Cities. Mary says they need to establish a local Board first. if you know of someone you think would make a good Honor Flight Board Member for Linn County, contact Mary Clapp at Legion Post 298 in Marion.

Online Reporter:  Ron Steele

rsteele@kwwl.com

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