About 300 people turned out Saturday night at the Mason City airport to welcome home World War Two veterans from “Honor Flight Winnebago.” The organization takes area veterans on a chartered flight to the nation’s capitol to see the World War Two Memorial and other places in the Washington D.C. area.
One veteran who made the trip was Royal Molander of Garner. He served in the Navy during World War Two and ended up as a chief boilermaker on the U.S.S. Chicago. Molander says the Honor Flight was a great experience.
“This has been a wonderful day,” Molander says, as people cheer in the background. “I just couldn’t visualize it being like this, except for the weather — it was wonderful and they treated us all so good out there. When we got off the plane in Washington D.C. this morning, we had people like this, they were congratulating us, from Boy Scouts on up to officers in the service.” Molander says he was able to bond with other veterans during the day-long trip.
He says he was surprised that he was among very few Navy veterans on the trip. Neither the veterans nor their families are allowed to pay for the trip as the cost is fully funded by private donations. Molander was able to enjoy the trip with some of his family members who helped out on the journey.
Molander has two sons and a grandson in his 30s. His youngest son, from Des Moines, served as Molander’s guardian for the day and flew on the jet with him, while his other son and grandson met them in Washington. They spent the day together and “that’s really a highlight because they were so interested,” he says. The next Iowa Honor Flight will take place next month.
Contributed by Bob Fisher, KRIB, Mason City