I, too, join my fellow World War II veterans in applauding the board members of the Brushy Creek Area Honor Flight - Ron Newsum its president; Tom Dorsey, its vice president; Mike Kopp, its secretary; Mel Schroeder, its treasurer, and the remaining board members, Dan Payne, Rus Naden and attorney Charles Walker for organizing and successfully completing the June 12 flight to Washington, D.C. Each of you, individually and collectively, are to be commended for turning a dream into a reality. I believe I can speak for all of the World War II veterans on that flight when expressing our heartfelt thanks for a day filled with pleasant memories and for some of us the nostalgia of World War II.
But there are others who were on this mission that deserve our special thanks. Dr. Mark Marner, was our attending physician. His presence and watchful eye were comforting to all veterans bearing in mind that our age group ranged from 82 years of age to 93 and perhaps beyond. His quiet professional manner gained our trust and our heartfelt thanks.
In addition there were 63 guardians assigned to assist us. Several had three veterans to attend to, others had two and for those veterans who needed special attention (particularly those in wheelchairs) that veteran was assigned to a single guardian.
As I observed the guardians, even though the veteran was not assigned to him or her, that guardian was there to assist others if the need required. There was the occasion when we were all seated on the steps at the Arlington Cemetery at the time of the changing of the guard. Prior to the change all of us were asked to stand. The steps are rather shallow so there was not a lot of lifting leg room. A veteran in the front row attempted to do so but fell backward. Several guardians were there immediately and prevented a fall that may have resulted in injury. I too had a problem rising. On my last attempt, two strong arms behind me lifted me to my feet. I turned to thank that person and it was my son, Bob, who was on the trip as a guardian. He, as a nurse, was also assigned to two other veterans.
It was indeed a memorable occasion. The crowd that greeted us in Washington, D.C., was spectacular. The changing of the guard was impressive. The memorials were great and the tribute to the Gold Star Mothers was overwhelming.
For many it was a dream come true. I had a special friend whose dream was truly realized when he made that trip. I remember Bob's broad smile as he was wheeled into the hanger by his wife, Mary Jean. Bob Hottman was in a wheelchair, but that did not dampen his spirit. He seemed to be everywhere all of the time. Bob will be remembered for the many years he served as the Webster County treasurer. This was his last major trip. He enjoyed every minute of that June 12 trip. Bob left us almost two months later, on Aug. 10.
I believe I can assure that the veterans and guardians scheduled for the September flight, that they will have a great time.
Albert Habhab, of Fort Dodge, is a retired judge.