Four veterans from Mills County have been chosen to take part in the second Western Iowa Honor Flight next Tuesday to Washington, D.C.
Duane Jackson and Hugh Trask of Glenwood and Arno Miller and William Pavkov of Hastings will be among more than 100 World War II-era vets traveling to Washington for a whirlwind day of sightseeing at the city’s military memorials.
“I’ve never been to Washington and I just want to see everything we’re going to see,” Jackson said. “This is a good program. There’s not too many of my age still around. I’m 85.”
Like the other veterans chosen for the honor flight, Jackson served in the military during World War II. He was in the Navy, spending more than two years in the Pacific as a radio operator.
Trask is also a Navy veteran who served in the latter stages of World War II. He enlisted as a 17-year-old high school senior in Wisconsin and began active duty in 1944. He served stateside and in the Pacific. Trask said he’s pleased to be part of the Honor Flight program.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the places we’re going to see,” Trask said. “It will be nice to see the World War II Memorial and I know Arlington Cemetery is just a fabulous place. When you see the Unknown Soldier ceremony and the silence, it’s very touching. I think it refreshes your memory and reminds you of the sacrifice that’s been made.”
Pavkov, an Army veteran who served in both World War II and Korea, said he expects the honor flight trip to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience and bring back memories of the soldiers he served with. He lost friends in both wars.
“I am looking forward to seeing the memorials,” he said.
Pavkov was one of seven brothers in his family who served in the military.
Miller spent more than three years of the war as a B-17 pilot. He’s been to Washington to see the Vietnam Memorial and expects the World War II Memorial to be just as impressive.
“I enjoyed the Vietnam Memorial, but I think the World War II Memorial will mean more to me,” he said.
The national Honor Flight program was established four years ago so that World War II veterans could go to Washington at no cost to see the memorial that’s been erected in their honor. The World War II Memorial was dedicated in 2004. The program is privately funded. The Charles and Chuck Lakin families of Mills County funded the first Western Iowa flight last September and kicked in the final $10,000 for next week’s trip. The Western Iowa Honor Flight program is coordinated by Council Bluffs businessman Jeff Ballenger.
The honor flight participants will be recognized at a dinner in Council Bluffs Monday night. They’ll spend the night at a motel and then get up bright and early on Tuesday for their flight from Eppley Airfield to Washington.
Their itinerary for the day includes stops at the World War II Memorial, Iwo Jima Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery and other Washington sites and landmarks.
They’ll fly back to Omaha at the end of the day.
“It will be a long day, but I’m sure it will be worth it,” Trask said.