Saturday, September 26th my father had the awesome opportunity to participate in one of the Honor Flights to DC.
If you don’t know the background of Honor Flights, click on the link and read some background information from the website.
Dad went on the Honor Flight Winnebago which flew from Mason City, Iowa with nearly 100 other WWII Vets from 29 northern Iowa communities, along with about 60 guardians who were younger Veterans, many from the Vietnam era.
My Dad, age 84, was actually one of the youngest Veterans, since he entered the Marines at age 17. The oldest in his group was 91.
A bus picked Dad up at the Charles City Court House about 4:45 AM along with 17 other WWII Vets from Floyd County. They were scheduled to meet in a hanger at the Mason City airport at 5:30AM.
After landing at Dulles International Airport in DC, buses took the Vets to the National Mall. Around 9:30AM the Winnebago Honor Flight Vets met up with 10 other Honor Flights programs from around the country in front of the new WWII Memorial.
Senators Bob and Elizabeth Dole were in attendance and many photo ops occurred here as well at the various monuments. Dad was moved by the Korean War Memorial which reminded him of his reconnaissance days as an Amphibian Recon Marine in the Pacific Island, (Makin and Marshall Islands, and the Iwo Jima). Dad was on top of Mt. Suribachi when the flag was raised and the famous picture was taken. I have written about this before, link here.
A picture published in our local paper showed the Vets in front of the Marine Corp Memorial which depicts the Iwo Jima flag raising and Dad is front and center in his red Marine jacket and cap. Dad said this was a very emotional moment for him.
The Winnebago Honor Flight arrived back home about 10:30PM to a crowd waving flags.
Family and friends were invited to write letters to their special Vet which were then given as a surprise to the Vets on their return flight home. Dad said he had the most letters of anyone! Thanks to all who found out about this and wrote. Dad has all his pictures and letters already assembled in a photo album. I wish I could be as organized as my Dad!
During the war my Dad had perilous challenges and he saw and experienced horrendous things that war requires of young men…. really still boys. Dad served from age 17 to 20…. And I am amazed that Dad was able to lead a normal and fulfilling life after all this.
This is what I wrote my Dad in a card:
Dad, Growing up, you were a tough father at times, and I didn’t always understand you.
Now over the years, I’m glad to learn about your war experiences and this helps me to appreciate your tough side which helped you be a survivor, and helped you to succeed in life after the war was over.
Athlete, Marine, teacher, coach, councilman & city leader, husband, father, friend, church volunteer, good neighbor, philanthropist: In my eye’s your life has been full…. and full of meaning. I’m grateful for the positive example you have been and I’m grateful for all that you have done for the country, our family, and me. You are ONE of a kind!
I asked Dad if he could give me a summary quote for my blog, He said proudly, "I was awake 22 hours and didn’t pee my pants!"
Now those are BIG accomplishments for THIS 84 year old Marine!