Honoring veterans

Published 9:25 am Monday, August 24, 2009

Money raised Friday and Saturday at Borderfest in Emmons will go toward honoring a veteran with a trip to the nation’s capital.

That money will be used to sponsor a World War II veteran’s trip to Washington, D.C., through the Honor Flight Network.

Six former participants of the Honor Flight from the Emmons area were the grand marshals of the Borderfest Parade Friday.

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“Thanks for what you did,” one woman watching the parade yelled to the six veterans on the float.

Portions of the proceeds from the Saturday pork chop supper from 4 to 7 p.m. and the Saturday night street dance, featuring Nate and the Moonlighters, will go toward sponsoring one Honor Flight.

The money will go to Honor Flight of Winnebago County, and the trip will go to someone from the Emmons and Lake Mills, Iowa, area, said Mark Heggestad, Borderfest chairman.

The current plan is to sponsor one flight, but Borderfest could sponsor two if enough money is raised.

“It’s a once in a lifetime chance for these folks to be able to see that stuff,” Heggestad said. “We thought it’d be a nice way of saying thanks to the folks that served the country.”

Heggestad said he’s not sure how the Borderfest committee will choose the veteran to receive the Honor Flight.

“It was a fine day — memorable,” said veteran Paul Rygh of his Honor Flight experience.

The Honor Flight Network began in 2005 as a way for aging World War II veterans to see the memorials in Washington, D.C. The goal is 25,000 participants in 2009.

The veterans do not pay for the trip. After the focus on World War II veterans, the flights will then focus on Korean War veterans and Vietnam War veterans.

The sponsorship idea came up after a group of area residents participated in the Honor Flight in April.

“A lot of these veterans, after they’d gotten out of service there were no memorials. And now that the memorials are out there, there’s flights available to take the folks out there, and there’s people volunteering to help take them on tours,” Heggestad said.

Dave Kvam, a veteran of the Vietnam War, drove the tractor that pulled a trailer carrying the six former Honor Flight participants in the parade.

He will be going on the September flight as a guardian. One guardian goes with for every three veterans, and there is one volunteer for each wheelchair-bound veteran.

Arvilla Clemmetson served in the Marine Corps as an arearology communications and weather observer, and she said the most memorable part of the trip was seeing the stars on the walls of the World War II Memorial and also seeing the Iwo Jima memorial.

“It was wonderful. It brought back a lot of memories of a lot of people I served with,” Clemmetson said.

Herbert Leonhardi served during the war from 1942 to 1946 as part of that time as a radio mechanic in Japan, and attended the Honor Flight in April. Leonhardi donated $25 to the September flight.

Leonhardi recalled a memory of a volunteer on the trip finding her brother’s name on the wall of the Vietnam Memorial.

The Borderfest committee donates funds to different charities each year, and money will be donated elsewhere in the community. Last year, $2,000 was donated between the community library and to new bathrooms in the park.