WATERLOO, Iowa - It's a dinner time phone call that 80 veterans from Eastern Iowa will not mind taking.
"It's a big surprise," said Barb O'Rourke, a volunteer with the three Waterloo-based Honor Flights for 2013. "We talk about when the flight is, when the orientation dinner is, the forms they need to complete."
On this Thursday night, Barb has amassed her own small army. Nine women inside the Farmers State Bank on Waterloo's south side, armed with folders, binders and information on 80 veterans who will be contacted for the next Honor Flight on May 6.
"There are about 260 applications," said O'Rourke.
The May 6 flight from Waterloo Regional Airport will mark the ninth Honor Flight to leave Waterloo since 2011. The flights cost about $100,000 each and American Pattern & CNC Works offered a check four years ago to cover the first flight.
"I have tremors from Vietnam and I was shaking worse," admitted Craig White, a Black Hawk County supervisor and co-chair of the Sullivan-Hartogh-Davis Post 730 Honor Flight, when recalling the moment the Miehe family at American Pattern & CNC Works filled out the check.
Deere and Company is picking up the cost of the May 6 flight.
"We're extremely grateful that John Deere corporation, here, is willing to fund a flight," said Frank Magsamen, Black Hawk County supervisor and co-organizer. "It's a great benefit to our veterans that will help to send them out to Washington and experience an honor flight."
The flights to Washington D.C. were launched to send World War II veterans to see the nation's monuments to reflect and remember the sacrifice of so many decades before. Yet as that generation departs, Korean War veterans are now filling the honor flights.
O'Rourke said, of the 80 veterans they would be contacting, only eight were from World War II. The others served in Korea.
"We encourage individuals to sign up and it's first come, first served," said Magsamen.
Applications for the Waterloo-based Honor Flights are available at Hy-Vee stores throughout Black Hawk County.
The three 2014 Honor Flights are already paid for, thanks to the Deere and Company funding plus another additional $200,000 to support the other flights in June and September.
Yet there is now a backlog of Korean War veterans who would like to be part of the flights.
"We're going to keep doing it as long as we can," said Smith. "It's important that we do it because there's a point in a person's life where they're able to share their stories and a lot of these people never shared them with their families. In a way, it opens some wounds and it heals."
For more online information:
SHD Post 730 Honor Flight
P.O. Box 182
Cedar Falls, IA 50613