When the Korean and World War II veterans return to Fort Dodge on Saturday's Brushy Creek Area Honor Flight to Washington, D.C., they will arrive to a heroes' welcome.
Crystal McGaughy, Brushy Creek Area Honor Flight Committee member, will make sure of that.
"The return has to be a big deal," she said. "Many of them did not get this."
Crystal McGaughy, a member of the Brushy Creek Area Honor Flight Committee looks over a some applications Tuesday afternoon. McGaughy is helping to plan the return ceremony at the airport for the Saturday flight.
When the plane arrives and the veterans step onto the tarmac they'll see a crowd gathered in front of the terminal. Members of the 133rd Test Squadron will line their route to the building.
"They form a gauntlet," she said.
In addition to family members, friends, flight alumni and fellow veterans, she said local Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, the Civil Air Patrol, the Fort Dodge Senior High band, members of the Fort Dodge Fire Department and local law enforcement officers also make up the crowd of well-wishers.
Brushy Creek Honor Flight - Saturday
5:30 a.m. - begin processing for flight.
6:45 a.m. - Flight departs Fort Dodge Regional Airport (Public can watch from outside the security area)
10:30 p.m. - Flight arrives in Fort Dodge
(Public should arrive at least 30 minutes early)
McGauhgy went on one of the Honor Flights and describes her reaction to seeing the crowd.
"It's overwhelming to see the amount of people," she said. "It brings a tear to my eye every time I see it."
This flight has 99 veterans scheduled to fly - 15 of them served in World War II.
She said that the public can come in the morning to wish them well as they depart at 6:45 a.m. or attend in the evening. The flight is scheduled to arrive in Fort Dodge at 10:30 p.m. but she recommends getting there about an hour early.
There will be material available to make welcome signs in the terminal building and the crowd is always well-supplied with U.S. flags.
During their trip, the veterans are greeted at Dulles International Airport by welcoming committees there as well.
McGaughy said that while the do a great job, the reception at Fort Dodge gives them a serious run for the money.
"I think ours is much better," she said. "It's amazing what we do here in little old Fort Dodge Iowa."
She encourages the public to welcome the veterans whether they have any direct connection or not.
"These are men who served their country and gave us our freedom," she said.
Time is no excuse, she said.
"It's just an hour out of your day," McGaughy said. "Try it once and you'll be back."
She said that the support they get from community is what makes the Honor Flights possible, that includes donations of time, money and other resources.
They plan on continuing the flights as long as the donations are adequate.
Those are tax deductible. The Brushy Creek Area Honor Flight committee can be reached at 320 S 12th St. Fort Dodge, IA 50501.