86 veterans take part in rescheduled Eastern Iowa Honor Flight

Next trip is scheduled for Oct. 17, public asked to attend welcome home ceremony in Cedar Rapids

Ronald Benge of Birmingham shakes hands with people as a crowd greets 89 veterans and their guardians on the Eastern Iowa Honor Flight at The Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017. Benge served in the U.S. Air Force from 1955-1959. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Ronald Benge of Birmingham shakes hands with people as a crowd greets 89 veterans and their guardians on the Eastern Iowa Honor Flight at The Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017. Benge served in the U.S. Air Force from 1955-1959. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — A large crowd turned out Tuesday night to welcome home and say “thank you” to 86 veterans who took part in a daylong trip to Washington, D.C., as part of the Eastern Iowa Honor Flight.

Tuesday’s trip was rescheduled from Sept. 19 when dense fog resulted in the flight being canceled for the first time in the organization’s history. Storms hit Eastern Iowa late in the day Tuesday, but did not cause any problems with the flight, said George Rickey, Honor Flight public relations and media coordinator.

“We had no trouble getting in,” he said. “It was kind of funny because as we were making our final descent it looked like heavy fog and I said, ‘This is where we started two weeks ago.’ ”

Rickey said nearly all of the veterans who were scheduled to make the Sept. 19 trip were able to take part in Tuesday’s Honor Flight. Those who could not reschedule plan to take a trip at a later date.

The next flight, which is fully booked, takes place Oct. 17. It is the last of four flights scheduled this year. Rickey encourages the public to make plans to come out to The Eastern Iowa Airport, 2121 Arthur Collins Pkwy. SW, Cedar Rapids, around 10 p.m. that night to welcome the next group of veterans home.

Rickey said while in Washington, D.C., veterans and those accompanying them on the flight, visit the World War II, Korean and Vietnam memorials, as well as Arlington National Cemetery and other memories. Tuesday’s trip also brought with it an opportunity to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.

“The folks at Arlington were absolutely incredible,” Rickey said. “The slot had already been filled with a group of Farm Bureau women from Montana and Wyoming, but what they did was put us in a second ceremony.”

Rickey said the weather in Washington, D.C., was picture perfect on Tuesday.

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“I couldn’t have designed a more beautiful day had I set out to do it intentionally,” he said.

The flight was sponsored by Rockwell Collins.

Founded in 2009, Eastern Iowa Honor Flight to date has offered 29 trips to Washington, D.C., transporting 2,479 veterans. Tuesday’s flight included two veterans from World War II, 28 from Korea and 56 from Vietnam.

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