A delegation of World War Two veterans from central Iowa will take part in the latest in a series of so-called Honor Flights to Washington D.C. early next month. Jeff Ballenger, of Omaha, is coordinating the one-day chartered trip for 350 central Iowa veterans.
“We’ll be flying out of Des Moines on August 11th, bright and early in the morning,” Ballenger says. “The day before that, we’ll be having a pre-flight dinner where there’ll be a chance for the World War Two veterans to get together for some entertainment — some music and some good food.”
Ballenger says the purpose of the Honor Flight is to allow these veterans to see the memorial dedicated to them in the nation’s capitol. Besides the World War Two Memorial, they’ll see the Iwo Jima Monument, the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, as well as the Korean and Vietnam memorials and Arlington Cemetery.
The Des Moines-based grocery chain Hy-Vee donated more than $250,000 to make the flight possible. While a few previous Honor Flights have taken veterans from western Iowa to Washington D.C., Ballenger says this flight is the first one originating in central Iowa.
“It should’ve been done many years before,” Ballenger says, “but you know what? The memorial has been built and now I think we owe it to these veterans for them to have an opportunity to see it. We’re losing 1,100 World War Two veterans a day in this country, so time is running out.” Ballenger said there is a possibility for yet another Honor Flight from Iowa later this year.
Find information on making a tax-deductible donation or for a veteran to apply for a future flight here .