The organizers of an Honor Flight for Korean War veterans to Washington, D-C says they’ve gotten enough donations to more than triple the number of veterans going along. The chairman of the Central and Western Iowa Honor Flight organization, Jeff Ballenger, says Polk County put up 125-thousand dollars for the trip. They planned on taking 130 veterans, but they got many more applications than that for the flight, and asked donors to help.
He says Hy-Vee and Caseys have each donated 110-thousand dollars and the Polk County Supervisors have come up with an additional 70-thousand dollars to go along with smaller donations from Bill Knapp and Kurt Rassmussen. “We are truly blessed, we now have enough to take at least 400 of our veterans, and we feel that that will probably be just about everybody that wants to go,” Ballenger says. He says the veterans come from many areas.
“We’ve got ’em from Pottawattamie, Mills, Decatur — but I would say the majority are from Polk County are — but they are actually coming from counties all the way to the Missouri River to here in central Iowa,” Ballenger says. The flights allow the veterans to go to Washington, D-C for free to see the monuments built in their honor. “We did start with World War Two and this will I believe actually be our 12th flight,” Ballenger says. “We feel blessed. With these 400 veterans, we will have taken nearly three-thousand World War Two and Korean veterans and raised just under three million dollars.” Ballenger says he recently got a letter from the family of a veteran who had gone on a flight in 2009.
He says the veteran was so proud of the trip and the World War Two Honor Flight hat that he got, that his family buried him in the hat after he died in July. “These flights mean a lot to our veterans and it’s a very, very small thing that we can do to say thank you,” according to Ballenger. He says anyone can donate to help pay for the flights.
Ballenger says the donations are tax deductible and you can send them to: Central Iowa Honor Flight; P-O Box 125; Council Bluffs, Iowa, 5-1-5-0-2. You can also call 712-322-6638, or visit the website: www.centraliowahonorflight.org. The flight will leave on September 30th.