Ralls Co. Veterans Among Those on 53rd Great River Honor Flight

May 23, 2019

The second of five planned missions for the 2019 Great River Honor Flight took place May 11 out of Hannibal LaGrange University. Seven Ralls County Vietnam veterans; Larry Dowell, Steve English, Danny Gibbons, Robert Lieurance, Russell Osterhout, David Palmer, and James Ross, were among the 29 veterans and 27 guardians who traveled to Washington D.C. Jason Liter also traveled as an honorary guardian to represent his father, John Mac Liter, who had been scheduled to make this flight before his death on Sept. 11, 2018.

The one-day flight began with a departure from Hannibal LaGrange University at around 3 a.m. Saturday morning. The charter bus took the veterans to St. Louis Lambert Airport where they boarded a flight to Baltimore and then to Washington D.C.

The first stop on the one-day itinerary was the Vietnam Memorial, the nearby Korean Way, and the Lincoln Memorial. After that was a stop at the World War II Memorial and the Washington Monument where a group picture was taken. Lunch was taken at the Air Force Memorial. The trip concluded with a stop at Arlington National Cemetery and the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

The direct flight from Reagan National Airport took them to St. Louis and the charter bus brought them back to Hannibal at approximately 10 p.m.

The veterans opened mail delivered to them on the flight home. A motorcycle escort surrounded the bus from Bowling Green to the Mabee Sports Center at HLGU. A large crowd greeted them as they entered the building and many heard “Welcome Home” for the first time.

This was the 53rd overall flight sponsored by Great River Honor Flight, a Missouri Nonprofit Corporation established in October of 2009. The first flight took place April 13, 2010; and consisted of World War II veterans. Flights continued to take WWII veterans for several years and then expanded to include veterans of the Korean War, and later veterans from Vietnam and those who served in the years between Korea and Vietnam.

To date Great River Honor Flight has flown 1,728 veterans free of charge on these one-day trips to Washington D.C. as a way of honoring them for their sacrifices and service to America.