The honor flight memories of a Vietnam vet
Editor’s Note: Jesup Vietnam War veteran, Nick Weber, just returned from an honor flight to Washington, D.C. Traveling with him was his son, Christopher. Nick’s sister, Mary Sue Moore, helped him write up this summary of his trip to be added to the family’s genealogy records.

Vietnam veteran Nick Weber (E-4 Nicholas John Weber US 54 926 428, 4/60 Arty) and 92 other Korean War and Vietnam War era veterans, their guardians, medical personnel, and “handlers” left the Waterloo airport early Tuesday morning, October 10, 2017 aboard SHD Post 730 Cedar Valley Honor Flight #20 bound for Baltimore National Airport. Accompanying Nick on the flight as his guardian was his son, Chris.

Prior to their departure from Waterloo, they were greeted at the airport by a Waterloo Fire Department truck with an American flag flying from the top of the ladder. They were treated to breakfast provided by HyVee, then with their identification badges around their necks, they were waved past security and escorted onto a chartered plane for their day-long experience in Washington, D.C. Upon arriving in Baltimore, their plane was given a “water salute” by fire trucks on each side of their plane as they sat on the tarmac. (An airport water salute occurs for ceremonial purposes, when fire fighting vehicles line up perpendicular to the aircraft and shoot plumes of water, forming arches.
Symbolically the procession would look similar to a bridal party walking under a wedding arch, or the saber arch at a military wedding.) They then boarded three chartered buses that drove them to the World War II memorial. After having his picture taken by the Iowa Column, he went in search of “Kilroy.” He was successful! Kilroy was there. It was 90 degrees in Washington, D.C. but their chartered buses had plenty of water.

The veterans and their guardians then re-boarded the buses and had a tour of Washington, D.C. to include the Washington Monument, Capitol Building, White House, and Martin Luther King memorial. They had a boxed lunch (sub sandwich) on the bus and then drove to the Lincoln Memorial.

With a mere 15 minutes of free time, Nick hiked up the stairs at the Lincoln Memorial to “say ‘Hi’ to Abe,” and was back in time to board the bus for their next stop at the Vietnam and Korean Memorials. At the Vietnam Memorial, with help from Chris and Google, they located the names of former Don Bosco classmates Bob Schares, Mike Mullen, and Jerry Fettkether. The Korean War Memorial was also nearby and they viewed it as well.

Back on the buses, they drove to Arlington National Cemetery where they were driven to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. (The honor flight buses are the only buses allowed to drive into the cemetery.) Four of the veterans from the honor flight were chosen to place a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Nick was watching for the slight drag of the guard’s heel at the beginning of his march. They were told this was done as an honor to visiting veterans. Visitors were warned not to touch the chains surrounding the tomb. At two separate times, (school children were hanging on the chain, and an adult touched the chain,) the guard turned, lowered his weapon, and barked an order at the offenders. Apparently, it was very effective! During the changing of the guard, strict silence is observed. It was all very impressive.
Right across from the bus was Audie Murphy’s tomb, the most decorated WWI veteran and an actor. His tomb is near an oak at the edge of the cemetery. There is no special acknowledgment of his tomb. Two rows back and three graves to the right, was the tomb of SSG Joe Ronnie Hooper, the most decorated Vietnam veteran. Across from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was the Women’s Memorial.

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