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Residents Participate in Heartland Honor Flight

For six residents, including one guardian, it was a whirlwind trip to Washington, D.C., touring the monuments and sites and being recognized for their military service.

Residents Virgil Fox, John Hunter, Fred Krabbe, David Maxey and Dick Erickson recently participated in the Heartland Honor Flight. Resident Janet Kral, who served in the Navy Nurse Corp from 1976-1996, acted as Dick Erickson’s guardian. On this trip, there were 85 veterans, each with a guardian.

The trip included tours of the World War II Museum, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, Arlington Cemetery, Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and more – all in one day. They were also able to visit with Sen. Claire McCaskill.

Dick Erickson, who served in the Marines during the Korean War, said it was an amazing trip and was impressed with the organization and detailed planning – including patriotic decorations in the airplane and police escorts to each location. He also said one of the moving parts of the trip was receiving “mail” during mail call on the return flight

“That was the one thing every serviceman couldn’t wait for,” Dick said. “To see if you received any letters from home. On this trip, we each receive numerous pieces of mail, from family, friends and school kids, all thanking us for our service. And as we were touring the different monuments, many people come up to us, thanking us for our service.”

John Hunter, who served in the Air Force during World War II, said a particularly touching moment was being greeted by several hundred people at the airport after they landed, all cheering, clapping and waving American flags.

“That was just really overwhelming and special,” John said. “To be recognized like that is important, especially when so many didn’t receive that treatment when they came home the first time.”

Fred Krabbe served in the Army during the Vietnam War, David Maxey served in the Navy during World War II and Virgil Fox served in the Air Force during the Korean War.