Fundraising is underway to send hundreds of World War Two veterans from central Iowa on a one-day chartered flight to Washington, D.C. to visit the World War Two Memorial honoring their bravery. Arvid Huisman is helping to organize what’s being called the Central Iowa Honor Flight.
"Our goal is to have raised enough money to schedule the flights by late June," Huisman says. "We’re hoping we can raise enough to do at least two flights and if we do, we’ll do them about a week apart. That part is all still very sketchy because nothing happens until we raise enough money."
There’ll be no cost to the veterans. The trip includes visits to the World War Two Memorial, the Iwo Jima Monument and the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery.
Huisman says he’s relying on Iowans to donate generously to honor these aging heroes. He says, "We’re estimating it’ll take about $450,000 to fly approximately 700 central Iowa veterans and their guardians and caretakers to Washington D.C. this summer." Several Iowa communities have already sent World War Two veterans to visit the memorial, with Honor Flights flying from Council Bluffs, Sioux City, Mason City and the Quad Cities.
Huisman took part in a special send-off in the Council Bluffs area earlier this month. He says there were 115 veterans, ranging in age from 82 to 90. "These individuals came in, some of them needed help with mobility, but when the Honor Guard marched to the front of the room, these veterans were on their feet in a matter of a second or two, snapping a salute," Huisman says.
"These men and women have paid such a price for our freedom and they still have that spirit in them." He says the event is strictly non-profit, so all gifts will be used exclusively for the veterans and are tax-deductible. Nationwide, he says more than 1,000 World War Two veterans are dying each day, adding, time is running out to thank them for their courage. For more information, call (515) 282-3599 or visit the Honor Flight website .