Brushy Creek Area Honor Flight departs

Veterans take flight to view memorials in D.C.

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson Craig Conway, a Vietnam veteran from Webster City, right, visits with his wife, Wanda Conway, prior to the Brushy Creek Area Honor Flight Saturday morning.

John Olmstead, of Fort Dodge, sat in his wheelchair with the U.S. Flag held high in his hands early Saturday morning as veterans made their way through the departure hangar at the Fort Dodge Regional Airport.

Almost 150 veterans were preparing to take the 15th Brushy Creek Area Honor Flight to Washington, D.C., to view their war memorials. They left on a tour to visit the Korean War Veterans Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the National World War II Memorial, and Arlington National Cemetery.

Olmstead, a U.S. Army veteran who served in the Korean War, said he has been greeting other veterans prior to the Honor Flights since he took the flight himself a few years ago.

He said the trip was memorable.

“The best part was seeing fellow soldiers enjoy the day,” Olmstead said. “They all deserve it.”

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson John Olmstead, a U.S. Army veteran from Fort Dodge, holds the U.S. flag as fellow veterans enter the departure hangar at the Fort Dodge Regional Airport Saturday morning.

“The whole day was terrific and everything is so well planned for every flight,” he added.

Don Poggensee, of Ida Grove, was one veteran preparing for the trip.

Poggensee joined the U.S. Air Force in the 1960s.

In his first year of service, Poggensee’s mission was to transport troops and supplies to Vietnam.

He also had to transport wounded troops, he said.

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson Nearly 150 veterans gathered in the departure hangar prior to the 15th Brushy Creek Area Honor Flight Saturday morning at the Fort Dodge Regional Airport.

Later in the war, Poggensee was assigned to a weather squadron.

“I had to watch for hurricanes,” he said.

The visit to see the war monuments in Washington, D.C., is one that Poggensee said is overdue.

During his service, Poggensee said he never made it out of the airport in Washington, D.C.

About two years ago, he submitted his name for consideration for the Honor Flight.

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson Don Poggensee, a U.S. Air Force veteran from Ida Grove, gets some help from Leo Shimon, of Pocahontas, prior to the Brushy Creek Area Honor Flight Saturday morning.

“It was about a year and a half before my name came up,” he said. “You qualify, and then you have to wait your turn.”

Jeremy Keefer and Tim Brinkley, both of Spencer, were looking forward to paying their respects at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Keefer, a U.S. Navy veteran, and Brinkley, a U.S. Army veteran, each served during the Vietnam War.

“I’ve got 18 people I know up on that wall,” Brinkley said. “And I’d like to say hi.”

“I want to see the wall,” Keefer said. “I want to see them all.”

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson Veterans Skip Smith, left, and Phil Baker, both of Fort Dodge, make their way to the Brushy Creek Area Honor Flight at the Fort Dodge Regional Airport before sunrise Saturday morning. Smith and Baker are both U.S. Army veterans who served in Vietnam.

Aside from their service, Keefer and Brinkley have something else in common.

“He lives a half a block away from me,” Brinkley said. “We golf against each other. Our kids went to school together.”

Denny Armstrong, of Algona, retired from the U.S. Army, but also served in the U.S. Air Force, he said.

He served in the Vietnam War.

“I missed the Korean by a year or so,” Armstrong said.

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson Tim Brinkley, a U.S. Army veteran from Spencer, looks over his dog tag prior to the Brushy Creek Area Honor Flight at the Fort Dodge Regional Airport Saturday morning.

Armstrong is no stranger to the Nation’s Capital.

“I was stationed in D.C. and it’s going to be interesting to see how much it’s changed,” he said.

Steve Leonard, a U.S. Army veteran from Carroll, struck up a conversation with Armstrong.

The two hadn’t met before, but Leonard was happy to get to know Armstrong.

“We know each other now,” he said. “That’s what’s neat about this group. There is a lot of camaraderie because a lot of us have been through the same thing.”

Craig Conway, a Vietnam veteran from Webster City, was spending time with his wife, Wanda Conway, prior to the flight.

Craig Conway served in the Naval Air Force.

“I was in the world famous Fighting Falcons,” he said. “We trained astronauts that went to the moon.”

He credited his wife for getting him to the Honor Flight.

“If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be here,” he said.

Wanda Conway said it was an emotional time to send her husband off on the flight.

“This is a real tear jerker,” she said.

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson The U.S. Flag, displayed courtesy of the Fort Dodge Fire Department, flies in the wind prior to the departure of the 15th Brushy Creek Area Honor Flight Saturday morning.

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