Ten Korean War veterans from Mills County will travel to Washington, D.C., next Wednesday to visit the national memorial built in their honor.
Clarence Boles, Robert Goodwin, James Lloyd Harold, Robert Henderson, Harold Prather, Don Weak and Ed Whitcomb, all of Glenwood, Eugene Leu of Hastings along with Malvern residents Ernie Spiker and Theron Michaelson will be among more than 130 veterans taking part in the Western Iowa Korean War Honor Flight. Their one-day whirlwind tour to Washington will include visits to the Korean War, World War II and Iwo Jima memorials along with a tour of D.C. and a stop at Arlington National Cemetery to view the Tomb of the Unknowns and the ceremonial changing of the guards.
“I think it’s a great opportunity,” Weak said. “It will be my first time in D.C.”
Weak served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, taking on a variety of duties – radio operator, parts man in the motor pool, movie projector operator and assisting in the transportation of prisoners.
Boles, a U.S. Navy veteran, is also looking forward to the trip. The Glenwood High School Class of 1950 graduate spent 45 months at sea during his 48-month tour of duty. He was aboard the USS Manchester, a cruiser that took part in the invasion and bombardment of Wonsan and patrol of the Korean coastline.
Boles said over the years he’s stayed in touch with several of the men he served with, including some from western Iowa. Two of his close Navy friends are now deceased.
“I’ve really been looking forward to going to Washington and seeing the memorials with other guys who served in the Korean War,” Boles said.
There was some speculation during the shutdown of the federal government that the honor flight might have to be postponed or cancelled, but organizer Jeff Ballenger said the trip was never in doubt. Ballenger said he was assured by Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley that the veterans would not be denied access to the military memorials.
“We weren’t concerned about it (shutdown),” Ballenger said. “My personal opinion is that the memorials belong to the veterans. They served our country. They deserve this.
“We’re excited and ready to go.”
Ballenger said the honor flight is a way to thank the veterans for their service, noting the Korean War has often been referred to as the “Forgotten War.”
The Korean War Honor Flight is the first for western Iowa veterans and stemmed from the popularity of the 2008-2009 honor flights for World War II veterans. The trip is being funded through private donations and $30,000 from the Iowa West Foundation.