Efforts are underway to send 150 southwest Iowa veterans to Washington, D-C as part of a “Freedom Flight” being paid for in-full by two successful businessmen from Ames who are former Atlantic residents. The Freedom Flight allows veterans to tour the national war memorials. The event is open to any veteran, not just World War Two or Korean War Vet’s as is the case with the “Honor Flights.” Steve Livengood, retired Military Veteran, and former Atlantic City Councilman was selected by Ames residents Roger Underwood and Jeff Becker, to take charge of the event.
Preference will be given first to those veterans in Atlantic and Cass County. If there is not enough interest locally, the scope will expand to the surrounding counties. About a dozen “Guardians” with special skills are also needed to help veterans get around once the plane lands in D-C.
Livengood says he wants prospective veterans or those interested in being a guardian or serving on a committee, to contact him at 243-5445. Another aspect of the Freedom Flight is a committee to help organize the event. Both veterans for the trip and committee members are needed to help make it possible. So far, he says, about a half-dozen veterans have asked to have their names included on the list, and just a few people are on the committee.
The committee members will be tasked with making sure many different aspects of the trip are successful. Livengood says there is an application form for both veterans and guardians that must be filled out after those persons call to have their name put on the list for the trip. Underwood and Becker will charter a Boeing 737 to fly 150 Military veterans and the guardians. Livengood says that’s not cheap. It costs 95-to 100-thousand dollars. Livengood asked Underwood if he really intended to make the flight free for veterans, and he said “yes.”
The date for the Freedom Flight has not yet been selected. That information will be released later, but it will be announced with plenty of advanced notice so as to try and avoid schedule conflicts for both veterans and guardians. Livengood says for now, the focus is on getting interested veterans to apply for the trip.