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Area WW II vets will fly to visit ‘their’ memorial

By Staff | Sep 11, 2009

Ron Newsum, of Fort Dodge, left, discusses the Honor Flight for World War II veterans that will leave from Fort Dodge on May 1, 2010. Dean Telford, right, a member of the Humboldt County Veterans Affairs Commission, listens during a Tuesday morning meeting at which the flight was announced.

By BILL SHEA/Farm News staff writer

A planeload of World War II veterans is scheduled to depart from Fort Dodge on a spring morning next year, destined for Washington, D.C., and the memorial erected to honor all Americans who served in the world’s largest conflict.

The May 1, 2010, trip will be part of the national Honor Flight program, which has taken about 25,000 veterans to the World War II Memorial.

”We’re here to announce the fact we’re going to be having an Honor Flight out of Fort Dodge, Iowa, on May 1,” Ron Newsum, an organizer of the trip, said Tuesday morning.

The Brushy Creek Area Honor Flight is intended for veterans from Calhoun, Greene, Hamilton, Humboldt, Pocahontas, Webster and Wright counties.

Last month, a North Central Iowa Honor Flight departed from Des Moines with several area veterans aboard.

Newsum said there will be room for about 100 veterans and 60 volunteer helpers called guardians on the flight from Fort Dodge.

Veterans will be accepted for the flight on a first-come, first-served basis, according to Newsum.

Applications for a seat on the flight will be available online and at the veterans affairs offices in each county.

People who wish to serve as guardians will also have to file applications.

The flight is estimated to cost $90,000. The World War II veterans will fly for free, however.

”They can’t even donate or contribute,” Newsum said. ”They’ve already paid their dues.”

Relatives of veterans can make donations, however.

Guardians will have to pay $600 for their flights.

The Honor Flight is a personal cause for Newsum, a Fort Dodge resident. His 94-year-old father, Clem Hentges, of Fort Dodge, was a Navy veteran who served on PT boats in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

As Newsum checked out the Honor Flight program, he discovered that the trip from Des Moines wasn’t the only one serving Iowa. He said there were two flights from the Council Bluffs and Omaha, Neb., area, two from the Quad Cities and one from Forest City.

”I’m thinking, you know, if a little town like Forest City, Iowa, can have one, why can’t we have one here in Fort Dodge?” Newsum said Tuesday morning.

He assembled a committee to work on setting up a local flight. He’s the president of the committee. The other members are Tom Dorsey (vice president), Mike Kopp (secretary), Mel Schroeder (treasurer), Councilman Dan Payne and Russ Naden, the director of veterans affairs in Webster County.

The group learned late last week that their Honor Flight proposal was approved.

The veterans and their accompanying guardians will depart at 7 a.m. May 1 from Fort Dodge Regional Airport aboard a Boeing 737. The group is to return to Fort Dodge at 10:30 p.m. the same day.

Newsum said he hopes there will be a celebration before the flight leaves and again when it returns.

Contact Bill Shea at (515) 573-2141 or bshea@messengernews.net

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