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Iowa Veterans Take "Honor Flight"

posted on November 12, 2009 at 1:15 PM


About a week before Veterans Day, 350 of them were flown from Des Moines to Washington, D.C., to visit the many    war memorials and other monuments.  Similar trips have departed from Mason City, Sioux City, and Moline.  The day-long event is provided at no charge to the Iowa veterans as a thank you for their service. 

A typical day for an 80-year-old does not include an inspection by an airline TSA agent Go ahead and put your arms out like this.

There we go. Thank you.

Or boarding a bus at 3:40 in the morning --

You can look out that side of the bus. There's the family and friends.

And a band playing as they board an airplane. But this is not any typical day. They are ordinary Iowans, with one distinctive common bond. These are World War II veterans who fought in countries thousands of miles away from home.

Enjoy yourselves today.

Thank you. We will.

At the arrival in D.C., the well-wishers were men and women currently in uniform.

Kischer: The people that come out to meet us and smile at us, shake our hands, that's the whole thing. It's just heart raising. It really is.

And emotional as well, as some vets experienced for the first time the Washington, D.C., landmarks, including Iwo Jima, the Lincoln Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, and the National Mall.

Knoll: A lot of memories of the trip all together. The impression of this memorial to the World War II veterans is - really I think is quite nice. It's really quite remarkable, I think. I've enjoyed it and am thankful we were able to do it.

Gov. Chet Culver: Great to see you. Thanks for your service. Thank you very much.

Romaine Kischer: it kind of takes you back a little bit to the time of the war, you know, the heroes we left there. I lost my shipmates and they're gone. They were the heroes. We're the fortunate ones. We got to come back.

Almost every moment was a Kodak one, but the mental pictures each veteran has from today will last a lifetime.

Ivan Knoll: What does it mean that we all get to come here? It's kind of hard for me, I guess, to describe what it means, really. I really appreciate it, and I'm sure they all do, the rest of them, appreciate that we have this opportunity. We've been wished well, many a times, by people here and people back home that knew we were coming. They were glad for us that we had this opportunity.

Kischer: I can't explain it. It's just thrilling. It's just thrilling all the way through. It's a thrill to be here, just to be a part of it. And all the people that were - that made it possible for us to come here and fly in that big airplane and come here. It's just a thrill. It was worth it all, I guess. It's worth fighting for our country. It's a great country. America is a great country.

Tags: aviation Iowa memorials veterans Washington D.C. World War II