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Last great hurrah of honor flights PDF Print E-mail

Dear Editor:

Bill Williams and wife plus many volunteers and sponsors for these seven flights completed the most memorable treat to veterans and their wives, can’t imagine the number of phone calls, reams of letter writing and personal contracts—just out of this world. All the concern and work certainly touched lots of hearts that will be forever grateful to all of them.

Sept. 17 veterans and families gathered at the Embassy Hotel in LaVista for a Salute to  Women on the Homefront, enjoying dinner at the 40 & 8 at 6 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 18 we went to the Papillion-LaVista High School for the program of the day.

The Times Square kissing couple featured on many posters were present with an interesting story proving they were the real couple. Lots of couples tried to be the ones.

The North Platte Canteen panel with ladies from Hershey, North Platte, Central City, Liberty, Mo. took part. Janet Seefeld of Oklahoma City was the moderator. Rosie the Riveter by people from Hastings, Springfield, Lincoln and Omaha. Rosie and her paratrooper from Birmingham, Ala. were there.

At the reunion in Omaha in 2009, the wives were asked to write stories of their lives while their husbands or boyfriends were gone to war, and they would be put together in book form. There were 123 stories sent in from this group. Nine women were chosen to be on the panel, Heartland Honor Flight Wives.

I was chosen, along with women from Columbus, Hooper, Omaha, Lincoln and Geneva. The moderator, Janet Cambell was from Elkhorn. Needless to say, I was excited when Bill Williams called and asked if I would be on the panel. It was fun and interesting.

After the program, Bill Williams gave a slide show on highlights of some of the flights.

The Papillon-LaVista NJROTC posted the colors and the Monrah Men sang the Star Spangled Banner.

The list of deceased honor flights was read, plus some flight guardians, numbering 116.

Bill Williams told of some interesting things that happened on the seven flights—I think he could write a book. One instance he told of was:

A veteran lady who lived in a rest home, had a leg amputated and weighed 300 pounds,  wanted to go on a flight so bad. Her weight was a problem, getting her to the plane, and on the plane. But leave it to Bill Williams, he would figure out a way. They did, took her to D.C., she came back to the rest home, had her other leg amputated, and eventually died. Her dream had been fulfilled, she made the trip to D.C.

There are not enough adjectives to describe the joy that these trips brought to these WWII veterans with so much appreciation and memories.

Thanks to all the work by Bill and Evonne Williams, helpers and sponsors.

When the veterans are together you can hear and feel the togetherness of people during that era, unlike today with flag burners, Stoompers and trouble making groups busy from D.C., state and county.

People that don’t have a connection to the veterans don’t realize the importance of freedom that the veterans from WWI right down to this day have fought for and gave their lives for—the very ground you stand on, the place you call home, your business and your land.

Elmer and I are forever grateful to have been and always will be a part of fighting for our country. 

Just remember—freedom isn’t free!

Elmer got to go on the first honor flight and we have attended all the gatherings. Since then it has been such a joy to be part of all the groups and such wonderful memories. We are thankful and grateful


Gerry Pankonin