Moore Calls Honor Flight the Trip of a Lifetime
Moravia veteran Bill Moore is shown with granddaughters Lauren (on the left) and Molly Parrish at one of the memorials they visited during the Honor Flight tour of Washington, D.C. The series of flights for veterans are sponsored by an all-volunteer organization, whose mission is summed up in a quote from Will Rogers, “We can’t all be heroes, some of us have to stand on the sidewalk and clap as they go by.”
Army veteran Bill Moore had the experience of a lifetime last month when he was fortunate to be one of a hundred former US military servicemen and women to take part in the Eastern Iowa Honor Flight #32 to Washington, D.C. He is quick to acknowledge that he owes his good fortune to his granddaughter, Molly Parrish. Parrish, the 22-year-old daughter of Bill and Janice Moore’s daughter Julia, works for a security firm in the nation’s Capital. She submitted an online application and supporting documentation for her grandfather, knowing that for every man or woman chosen, there are many more unsuccessful applicants.
Then, one Friday in mid-May, Moore received a call from the EIHF headquarters, asking if he could be in Cedar Rapids on Sunday. There had been a cancellation and a slot was open for the flight which was set to leave the following Tuesday, May 15. And the rest is history, or rather the opportunity to see and experience the history of the country’s monuments to its military.
For Moore, the trip was extra special because it was a family affair. Each veteran is asked to bring a support companion on the trip, not a spouse, but rather a younger friend or family member who can assist each vet during the rigorous and fast-paced trip. Lauren Parrish, Molly’s sister and a teacher at North English, was delighted to join her grandfather on this sentimental journey, and when they arrived in Washington, Molly joined them for the day of sightseeing with the Honor Flight group. Support companions do pay for their own airfare but are able to enjoy all the sights and experiences that the veterans do.
Bright and early Tuesday morning, a large crowd gathered at the Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids to cheer for the veterans as they boarded an American Airlines Boeing 757 for the 90-minute ride to the Capital. Landing at Reagan National Airport, the group of veterans were met by a gathering of more than 400 people welcoming them and thanking them for their service. The travel group was loaded onto four large busses and became part of an honor motorcade with a motorcycle police escort throughout the day. Bill’s group included a few World War II veterans along with those who had served during the Korean Conflict and the Vietnam War.
The tour included stops at the World War II, Korean War and Franklin D. Roosevelt monuments, monuments dedicated to each branch of the service, and Arlington National Cemetery. They witnessed the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, where two World War II veterans in the group helped to lay a memorial wreath. Bill noted that the giant cemetery is one mile square and has an average of thirty-five burials every day. He also learned that guards at the Tomb train for a year to earn that duty. The changing ceremony is done every 30 minutes in summer and every hour in winter, no matter the weather conditions.
Iowa Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, along with Congressman Dave Loebsack, all met with the Iowa contingent and spoke briefly, welcoming them to Washington, D.C. and thanking them for their service and sacrifices while in the military.
The group returned to Iowa that same evening, although a medical situation delayed their flight by five hours. Even so, there was still a large contingent of families and well-wishers waiting when the plane landed in Cedar Rapids at 2 a.m. Moore said when soldiers returned from the Korean Conflict there were no welcoming crowds, no ceremonies of any kind, and no military benefits for them. But he was amazed and overcome with emotion at the incredible show of support and gratitude for these aging veterans before, during, and after the Honor Flight. He is particularly proud of the patriotic cards made for him by students in his daughter Julia’s sixth grade class at Williamsburg, IA.
Bill Moore was born in the two-room hospital at Melrose in 1932 and graduated from Moravia High School in 1950. He and his wife, Janice, had only been married a year when he was drafted by the Army in August of 1954. After training, he was stationed in Japan for twenty months, but was on the island of Iwo Jima on maneuvers during his time in the Pacific. He left the service in 1956 with the rank of SP III and returned to his home in Appanoose County. A retired farmer and cattleman, he will turn 86 this month. The Moores, who celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary this year, live west of Moravia on Highway J18. They have four children and eight grandchildren.
Honor Flights are financed entirely by private, public, and corporate donations and all those associated with the program are volunteers. Nationally, Honor Flights began in 2005, and the two which operate in the Hawkeye State, Eastern Iowa and Central Honor Flights, have been providing Iowa veterans with this unique opportunity since 2009. Originally, it was mainly for those who served in WW II, but as the numbers of those survivors dwindles, many more Korean and Vietnam War veterans are included. The flights also accept applications from service members who served in peacetime during the timeframe. According to statistics, America loses approximately 1,000 veterans a day, and over 600 of those are soldiers who served during WW II. Organizers feel it is critical to take as many former soldiers as they can on these Honor Flights as soon as possible. The EIHF makes four trips a year, enabling those who served to see the memorials and monuments dedicated to their service. Specific information and applications may be found online at each group’s website. Donations may also be made through the website
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