Hy-Vee stores in eastern Iowa and western Illinois will send a contingent of military veterans on the first-ever Honor Flight devoted exclusively to those who served during the Korean War.
The May 22 flight to Washington, D.C., is the latest in a series of similar Hy-Vee sponsored trips across the company’s eight-state operating area that have allowed veterans, many for the first time, to visit war memorials in and around the nation’s capital.
“We feel that every Korean veteran who wants to make this trip should have the opportunity to do so,” said Jim Lehman, store director at the Hy-Vee on 42nd Avenue in Moline, IL, said. “These heroes willingly made sacrifices to secure our freedoms, and this trip is just a small way of showing our thanks.”
The effort started earlier this spring at the Milan, IL, Hy-Vee, where Store Director Kevin Mills gave veterans room to display a military Jeep and other military equipment for a week to generate interest and cash. In all, $3,500 was raised.
Area stores followed up with a $50,000 contribution that will allow about 165 Korean War veterans and volunteer guardians to depart Quad-City International Airport for one-day tour.
The flight will mark the third to be sponsored by the Quad Cities and Clinton stores, but it is the first devoted exclusively to those who served during the Korean Conflict. Since 2008, the local Honor Flight chapter has made possible 17 flights for an estimated 1,700 World War II vets.
“Our community has just been amazing in its support of the Honor Flight movement,” Bob Morrison, the local director, said.
The group’s treasurer, Art Petersen, a Korean-era veteran, said it is time his comrades are honored.
“When the war was going on, it was not called a war; it was a police action,” he said. “So it is time to recognize these people for what they did.”