Sigourney Resident Chosen for Honor Flight
William “Bill” Williams, a WWII Veteran visits Washington D.C.
Sigourney, IA , October 21, 2015– William “Bill” Williams, a resident of Sigourney Health Care Center took the trip of a lifetime today as he was chosen to participate in the Eastern Iowa Honor Flight.
Eastern Iowa Honor Flight is a non-profit organization dedicated to sending local Veterans to Washington D. C. to visit various historical sites and war memorials. (Learn more about the National Network at www.honorflight.org).
These memorials include the WWII Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Korean War Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, USMC Memorial, USAF Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery. The Veterans are also taken on a city tour where they are able to see the Smithsonian, Capitol, White House and various other historical buildings.
On December 7, 1941 the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan. Shortly thereafter, Congress declared war against Japan. More than 226,000 Iowans answered that call serving as sailors, soldiers, Marines and airmen in the largest war the world had ever seen. Sadly, there are fewer and fewer of these men and women alive today and few have had the opportunity to see the National WWII Memorial dedicated to them on April 29, 2004 (59 years after the war’s end).
“As soon as I learned that we had a WWII Veteran in our facility, I contacted an Eastern Iowa Honor Flight advisor to get more information on how to get Bill on their next flight,” said Misty Little, Sigourney Health Care Center Community Liaison Director. “This was the perfect opportunity to kick off our recently implemented New Chapter Program. At Sigourney Health Care Center we are committed to enriching the lives of our residents and families and one of the many ways we do this is by helping to create a ‘new chapter’ in their lives. With this new program we are delighted to be able to make the wishes, hopes and dreams of our residents and their families come to light. We do everything we can to help them mark something special off their bucket list.”
Bill’s niece, Lynn Dolan who is a retired RN of 42 years, promptly volunteered to be his guardian on the trip. The Honor Flight is free of charge for the Veterans but their guardian is asked to make a $550 donation to cover the costs of their trip. Sigourney Health Care Center paid the guardian fee on Bill and Lynn's behalf as part of their New Chapter program.
Bill’s flight departed from Cedar Rapids at 6:40 a.m. on Tuesday, October 20th and returned that same night at 10:30 p.m. where all the Veterans were welcomed home at the airport by several loved ones, community members, media, and other Veterans.
This is a trip of a lifetime for many. It is a very emotional day for these energetic men and women who sacrificed so much for the freedom and liberty of our country. The goal of the Eastern Iowa Honor Flight Board of Directors is to make this a very memorable and personal experience for each of them.
One way they do this is with the help of the community, family and friends by asking them to express their thoughts and appreciation to the Veterans in their Letters to Veterans Project.
The letter writing project is an opportunity to thank the Veterans for their service and tell them how special they are to us. Unknown to the Veterans, these letters will become a permanent keepsake for them. Many are reminded of the mail they use to get while they were in the service away from home.
During the flight home, each Veteran is given a large envelope filled with letters written especially for them by family, school children and members of the community, both young and old. Many tears have been witnessed on the plane ride home when the Veterans receive their letters and see that people have taken the time to write them a personal note.
“Our staff and residents from the Sigourney Health Care Center as well as the Keota Health Care Center wrote letters and cards for Bill to read on his return flight. Bill was overwhelmed with emotion as he read all the kind words from those of us who really do care for him as part of our family and appreciate his service to our country,” said Little.
William "Bill" Williams was born on 11/29/1919. He is 95 years old, originally from Iowa City, Iowa and is an avid Iowa Hawkeyes fan. He joined the Army in 1942 when he was just 23-years-old. He served as a Corporal and Sergeant from 1942 - 1945 during World War II. After he left the Army, he worked as a Claims Examiner for the Veterans Administration serving hundreds of Veterans before his retirement.