A flight of honor
Korean War veterans Wendell Body, of Sac City, and Eldon Stall, of Palmer, sat together in the departure hangar at the Fort Dodge Regional Airport early Saturday morning while waiting to board the Brushy Creek Area Honor Flight for Washington, D.C.
The pair are old friends, and it’s been awhile since they last saw each other.
“We were in State FFA together,” Body said.
Although the pair had lost touch over the years, seeing the other’s name on the travel manifest gave them both an additional bonus to anticipate.
The camaraderie of being with a group of fellow vets helps make the trip for many.
“I’m looking forward to the experience of the day with other veterans,” Body said.
Janice Rees, of Vincent, sent her husband Charles off with a kiss Saturday morning. The couple have been married for 57 years and met while attending college.
She didn’t get to send him off to fight.
“I was still in high school,” she said. “He finished his service before we met.”
She said he still suffers from some of the experiences he had in combat.
“I want him to get some closure,” she said. “He needs to know we appreciate what they did.”
That appreciation is something that’s never lacking on the Honor Flights. Crowds greet the veterans at Dulles Airport when they land, and there are many who meet them at the various sites they visit who approach them and thank them for their service.
Once in Washington, Charles Rees is also expecting to participate in a reunion.
He is meeting Susan Kantrowitz, a family friend that is now an attorney in D.C.
“The last time I saw her, she was pretty young,” he said.
She was an elementary school classmate of his son when the Rees family called Denver home.
Besides an email exchange of pictures, how will they recognize each other?
Janice Rees took care of that.
“He’s got a little flag he’ll wave,” she said.
Bill Storey, of Fort Dodge, served on the U.S.S. Bataan, a CV29 Class aircraft carrier. He was a radioman.
He visited Washington during his time in the service.
“I’m looking forward to seeing some of Washington I haven’t seen,” he said.
Story said he was also looking forward to spending the day with the other veterans.
In addition to the 99 veterans making the trip, the flight also includes some who serve as guardians for them during the journey.
Merle Bloom, of Fort Dodge, was among those.
“My dad was in Korea and Vietnam,” he said, adding that he will also be helping two other veterans.
In addition to getting to spend the day with his dad and see a bit of Washington, Bloom said he’s also looking forward to one other thing: “Good stories.”
Ron Newsum, chairman of the Brushy Creek Area Honor Flight committee, said that 99 vets were on board with a total of 162 going on the trip. Those 63 people are guardians and other support personnel.
He said the trip gives the vets a chance to talk to other veterans about their experiences – something he encourages them to do afterwards with their families too.
Scheduled stops include the Korean, Vietnam, World War II and Lincoln monuments, as well as Arlington National Cemetery for the changing of the guard, a short tour of Washington, D.C., and a visit to the Iwo Jima Monument. They also get “Mail Call,” on the return trip.
They were expected to return to Fort Dodge at 10:35 p.m. Saturday. An account of their trip will appear in Monday’s edition of The Messenger.