Allen Stekl honored for volunteer efforts with Eastern Iowa Honor Flight

Published: May. 3, 2021 at 2:29 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) -Each year the Cedar Rapids Freedom Festival recognizes everyday heroes who live among us. One of the heroes being honored this June is Allen Stekl, who will be recognized for his volunteer efforts with Eastern Iowa Honor Flight.

“The Korean War veterans and especially the Vietnam veterans never got a welcome home,” Stekl told TV-9.

Giving veterans the welcome home celebration they deserve is what has Stekl dedicating his time and energy to make sure funding is available so more veterans can get that experience through Eastern Iowa Honor Flight.

“Until you are the person walking through that crowd and every person in line wants to say thank you to you, it’s pretty emotional,” Stekl said.

At about $80,000 per flight, Stekl has volunteered countless hours over the years to lead up fundraising efforts to help planes full of veterans leave the Eastern Iowa Airport to travel to Washington D.C.

“We go to the WW2 Memorial, the Korean and Vietnam Memorial, The Lincoln Memorial. We’ll go to Arlington National Cemetery and see the changing of the guard at Arlington. We go to the Marine and Airforce memorial.”

The whole trip out and back happens in a day and is capped off with the welcome home celebration at the airport.

As a veteran himself, Stekl served 12 years in the Navy, and 8 in the Army and National Guard. His favorite photo is from the day he was welcomed home by his two sons after spending more than a year in Iraq. His focus now is on other veterans, and how he can help honor them.

“He never misses anything and he gives so much time away from work and his family, but that is what he has dedicated everything towards and he deserves this honor more than anyone,” Ashley Grimm told us, a friend and fellow volunteer at Eastern Iowa Honor Flight.

After several missed honor flights due to COVID, three are being planned for this fall. Stekl is looking forward to being able to give more veterans a well deserved thank you for their service to the country.

“We have about a 3 year waiting list of veterans waiting to go and so you know we just want to get back to doing and saying thank you to those veterans,” Stekl said.

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