Quad City area vets take 17th Honor Flight
November 4, 2011
DAVENPORT, IOWA--For 89 Quad City area World War II veterans and 70 Honor Flight escorts, Nov. 2 was a night of anticipation at Hy-Vee's Northgate Place, where a dinner was served in their honor.
The next day, the veterans would head to Quad City International Airport to board a flight to Washington, D.C., where they would visit the National World War II Memorial for the day.
"I'd heard about the Honor Flight program," said Maj. Gen. Patricia McQuistion, Army Sustainment Command commanding general, "But I never understood what it meant to the veterans until now."
McQuistion, along with ASC Command Sgt. Maj. Stephen Blake and his wife, Karen, greeted the veterans as they entered the hall before dinner.
The evening was filled with camaraderie, esprit de corps and honor. Several area veterans groups were on hand to help celebrate. The Patriot Guard Riders and Davenport High School ROTC supported the event, as well as the Sudlow Junior High School band.
During the presentation, the veterans were photographed and presented with an official Honor Flight shirt and coat.
Former U.S. Sen. Roger Jepsen was the keynote speaker at the event. Jepsen, an Army veteran who served as a paratrooper for the 82nd Airborne Division, reminisced about his "Army memories" by speaking about the great contributions of our military men and women.
The inaugural Honor Flight took place in May 2005, when six small planes flew out of Springfield, Ohio, taking 12 World War II veterans on a visit to the memorial. In August 2005, an ever-expanding waiting list of veterans led to the transition to commercial airline carriers, with the goal of accommodating as many veterans as possible.
Blake, along with ASC Soldiers and the ASC Chaplain, Lt. Col. Chuck Rizer visited with the Honor Flight veterans and thanked them for their service as they boarded the plane Nov. 3.
"I would not miss this for the world," said Blake, "There is no place I would rather be at '0530' than to be with a room full of WWII Veterans." CSM Blake personally reminded every veteran to, "have a great day and we will see you tonight with smiles on your faces."