Up to 500 people from eight counties turned out late last night at the Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids to welcome home 82 World War Two and Korean War veterans. The group spent the day touring national monuments in Washington D.C. as part of an honor flight.
Many in attendance are grandchildren, sons, or daughters, but some are fellow service men and women — such Dennis Kendrick of Marion, who said he showed up to make sure veterans have a warm welcome home at least once in their lives. “I was in Vietnam. When I came home we didn’t get the welcome like this. So, these guys, there’s not many of them left anymore, and it’s a great honor,” Kendrick said.
On their trip to D.C., veterans toured the World War Two, Korean, and Vietnam War memorials, plus the Air Force, Marine Corps and FDR memorials. Veterans also stopped at Arlington National Cemetery for a wreath laying at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
It was a long trip and a lot to do in to a day, but Korean War Veteran John Coyle said it was something never forget. “It’s out of this world. They really treated us like kings…and this is something else here (at the airport). I can’t believe this,” Coyle said.
The honor flight was funded by employees of the Quaker Oats company in Cedar Rapids, plus its parent company PepsiCo.
(Reporting by Forrest Saunders, KCRG, Cedar Rapids)