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An airborne thank you

19th Brushy Creek Area Honor Flight takes off

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Army veteran Ronald Johnson, of Laurens, may not be 100 percent happy with the picture his wife, Rosie Johnson, just snapped of themselves Saturday morning at the Fort Dodge Regional Airport. Johnson was however, very happy to be going on the 19th Brushy Creek Area Honor Flight to Washington, D.C.

Army veteran Ronald Johnson, of Laurens, and his wife, Rosie, have adopted one of the younger generation’s rituals before traveling that simply didn’t exist in their own youth.

They took a cell phone selfie Saturday morning before he boarded the 19th Brushy Creek Area Honor Flight to Washington, D.C.

Johnson served during the Vietnam era; visiting the Wall that honors those who died there is going to be part of his day.

There’s one name he will be seeking out.

“Eric Johnson,” Johnson said. “He was the only guy from Pocahontas County that lost his life there. I feel like I owe him that honor.”

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
With the morning sky still dark, veterans, staff and volunteers line up to board the plane Saturday morning for the 19th Brushy Creek Area Honor Flight to Washington D.C. at the Fort Dodge Regional Airport.

Rosie Johnson is proud of her husband and deeply appreciates the Honor Flights.

“I just think this is really cool,” she said. “They’ve taken the time and effort to honor them.”

She’s going to take advantage of the husband-free day to take care of something besides working on their home.

“I can’t wait to get my nails done,” she said. “Paint something besides the house.”

Darrell Shane, of Iowa Falls, is also a Vietnam-era veteran. He served in the Army.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Army veteran Robert Shaner reflects for a few minutes Saturday morning while the plane boards for the Brushy Creek Area Honor Flight to Washington D.C.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the memorials,” he said.

That includes the Wall.

“It’s just going to be emotional,” he said. “I had classmates that never came back. It’s going to be an emotional great day.”

Korean War Navy veteran Robert Whitmore, of Spirit Lake, spent part of Saturday morning chatting with Brushy Creek Area Honor Flight volunteer and Vietnam-era Army veteran James Ricke, of Fort Dodge.

Ricke had gone on a previous flight.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Marine Corps veteran Glenn Howard, of Dolliver, is all smiles as he checks in for the Brushy Creek Area Honor Flight Saturday morning at the Fort Dodge Regional Airport.

“You just meet a lot of old friends,” he said. “Plus you make new ones. I like to talk to people.”

There’s an instant bond between vets regardless of which branch they served in.

“We talk about Army things, Navy things,” Ricke said. “Vets all talk the same.”

He fondly remembers the greetings the veterans get when they arrive at Dulles Airport.

“When you get to D.C.,” he said, smiling. “The people that were there, it’s amazing.”

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Navy veteran Robert Whitmer, of Spirit Lake, at left, enjoys a little conversation Saturday morning with Brushy Creek Area Honor Flight volunteer James Ricke, of Fort Dodge as the vets gather for the flight to Washington D.C. Ricke is an Army veteran who served during the Vietnam era, had been on a previous flight.

Marine Corps veteran Glenn Howard, of Dolliver, served during the Vietnam era.

“I want to see everything,” he said. “Just take it all in.”

He too will visit the Wall.

“I just to go see the time period I was there,” he said.

He said that during his time in Vietnam, the troops were not kept informed of what was going on stateside and the various movements and protests against the war.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Army veteran Darrell Shane, of Iowa Falls, snaps a photo of his fellow Brushy Creek Area Honor Flight vets as they arrive Saturday morning at the Fort Dodge Regional Airport.

“We didn’t know,” he said. “We weren’t told what was going on in the states. That hurt me more than being in Vietnam.”

The Brushy Creek Area Honor Flights rely on dozens of volunteers to make the flights happen. They also help ensure the veterans safety by having medical personnel join the flight.

One of those is Fort Dodge firefighter Meghan Spears.

She was all smiles at the airport.

“It’s an honor to get to go,” she said. “I can’t wait.”

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
A combination of long exposure and motion creates something a little different as the Sun Country Airlines plane carrying the Brushy Creek Area Honor Flight turns on the apron at the Fort Dodge Regional Airport.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Veterans going on the 19th Brushy Creek Area Honor Flight get ready for the plane to take off Saturday morning at the Fort Dodge Regional Airport.