Iowa Veterans won’t let government shutdown stop their Honor Flight

(Radio Iowa) – The Honor Flight from central Iowa earlier this month made national news as aging World War Two veterans bypassed barricades and visited Washington D.C. monuments that were “closed” by the federal government shutdown. Even if the shutdown continues, another round of charter flights will be flown later this month, focusing on Korean War veterans.

Bill Williams is helping organize two flights for more than 230 veterans from Iowa and Nebraska out of the Omaha airport. “We are going no matter what,” Williams says. “We have a Silver Star (recipient), several hand-to-hand combat (veterans), a guy who had his legs blown off in Korea, the park police are no match for this crew, trust me.”

He says the veterans on these charter trips will see what they want to see, and he jokes they’ll be prepared to cut through any chain link fences that may block their way.

“They’ve closed the restrooms at the World War II Memorial so that is an issue and the Lincoln Memorial is closed, you can’t go see it, that’s a shame,” Williams says. “It doesn’t matter, we’re going, wire cutters in hand.”

Williams saw the media coverage of the other veterans groups last week as they made their way into the memorials that were dedicated in their honor, even though the areas were supposed to be closed to the public. “That’s so ridiculous anyway because they’re open air memorials,” Williams says. “They’re just trying to inflict as much pain on people to put pressure on, that’s all it’s about.”

Previous Honor Flights from Omaha have focused more on the older veterans. “We did seven World War II flights in 2008 and 2009 and 1,500 World War II vets had the opportunity to see the World War II Memorial,” Williams says. “This is the first attempt to do something for the Korea veterans. The ones who received the invitation are so excited and it’s just a wonderful opportunity for them in their twilight years to have an experience like this.”

The flights are scheduled for October 29th for about 140 Nebraska Korean War veterans and on October 30th for about 100 Iowans who served in Korea. Williams says both flights will follow the same schedule out of Omaha. “We’ll depart at 6 A.M., arrive at Dulles airport at 9:30, we’ll bus to the Korean Memorial, the Vietnam Wall and the Lincoln Memorial,” he says. “Then, we’ll stop at the World War II Memorial and Arlington for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers, drive around and see the White House and a few other buildings. The final stop will be the Marine Corps Memorial.”

The flights should get the veterans back to Omaha around midnight. Williams hopes these are the first of many Honor Flights for our states’ Korean War heroes.