MARION, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- For nearly 10 years, Arlo Meyer has encouraged veterans to go on the Eastern Iowa Honor Flight. And now, the World War Two Veteran is getting his own special honor.
The May Honor Flight will be named after Arlo Meyer.
The board wanted to thank him swaying veteran's minds. Often, many veterans don't think they were deserving of a trip to Washington D.C. But Meyer then tells his own story, about why this trip was so important to him, and should be to all veterans.
The U.S. had just entered World War II when a strapping young man joined the Navy. Arlo Meyer worked as a radio specialist in the Pacific.
"Okinawa was our first military assignment out of school and Okinawa of course is the most southern part of Japan. And that was the kicking off point for the invasion of Japan."
Meyer served for a few years, then moved to Iowa to make his new home.
Decades later, in 2009, he went on the first honor flight out of Cedar Rapids. He enjoyed meeting other veterans.
"You're all a little different, even if you were in the same class there is always something new to talk about."
His experience inspired him to reach out to other veterans. He believes each veteran should go on this trip.
"Most of the veterans don't want to go on the honor flight. They say 'I don't deserve to go on a flight like this cause the other guys had more experience.' Same with me. I didn't deserve to be on the flight any more than anyone else, probably less."
The Honor Flight Board acknowledges signing veterans up can be a challenge.
"Arlo has had several that he couldn't talk into going, and they passed away finally."
The organization believes its important work, because it can help veterans heal. And that need could keep increasing. As the Honor Flight starts catering to veterans from more recent wars.
"You know the Vietnam veterans probably had one of the rawest deals when they came back and I think if anyone deserves a new welcome it’s the Vietnam veterans,” Mike Wilson said.
And the welcome home was Meyer's favorite part of the trip. Being honored, and appreciated for their service, even if it happened decades ago.
“When you get off the airplane you have all of these people there welcoming you, they want to shake your hand and welcome you home.”
Typically there are about eight to 10 WW2 veterans on the Eastern Iowa Honor Flight.
The flight in May will is on a larger plane and will hold more than 100 veterans. That's the most of any Honor Flight out of Cedar Rapids.