Over coffee and orange juice the veterans in attendance started talking about their service time and their experience on the Siouxland Honor Flight.
Paul Cedar said of his trip, "The day we went to D.C. was the shortest day of my life because it was so busy. I really can't thank Cathy enough." Cedar is referring to Cathy Mueller, Director of the Siouxland Honor Flight and special guest at Thursday's coffee.
Cedar also added, "We finally got together, here we are, 80, 90 years old, it was like magic. We spent three years of our lives together and here it is 68 years later a bunch of strangers getting together in one place. That's just magic."
"The trip was a wonderful treat. I can't believe the job Cathy did, from scheduling to putting our names on the jackets, food, or anything we wanted.
"I can't believe how it was made to perfection. Strangers would come up and thank us for our service," said Marvin Zoch.
Art Ryden said "I've been to Washington D.C. before, but it was nothing compared to this. I wish my brother could have been on this trip. He died over in France after the Battle of the Bulge." Ryden was in the army from Sept. 1941 until 1955 and as he puts it, was in "a little of everything."
During the coffee the men started to reminisce about some of their WWII experiences. Cletus Henke stated, " I got drafted when I was 18 and served two years. I'm glad I got to go to D.C. I have no complaints about anything. A lot of people would come up to us while we were there, one kid about 18 or so came up to me and wanted to take a picture with me. It was strange, someone that young would know about what we had done. As for the war, there was fighting to no end. It was a religion to them. Thank God Macarther dropped the bomb or else none of us would be here."
Bob Becker of Cleghorn spoke about his trip over to the European Theater. "The Queen Mary took us over there because it could move faster than a sub and the theory at the time was that we could out-run a sub if it was near us, but we never had to test that out and I came home the same way."
One of the veterans asked Harry McManus were he was during the war and McManus replied, "I spent 3 1/2 years on Borneo, not by choice. The Japs made me go." McManus described life in a prisoner of war camp, "If you didn't adjust, you died, if you didn't do what the guards said they would poke you in the side with their guns." McManus enlisted in the navy and was going to serve on the same ship as his brother but after the Sullivan Brothers tragedy, McManus was assigned to the ill-fated U.S.S. Houston.
Arnie Dobson recalled one of his memories on the war. "There was a rumor going around that they dropped a bomb on a city in Japan and then a couple of days later they dropped another one and then like that, it was over and after that I got shipped to Korea."
Making the Siouxland Honor Flight possible for these veterans was Cathy Mueller, who read a story about the honor flight in "American Profile." magazine and proceeded to set up the Siouxland Honor Flights. Mueller's message to the veterans is "Tell your family what you went through, so people know what you did. The work I've done is nothing compared to what they did." She added "What they did is give us a future and all were trying to do is give them one day in the past."
To date, there have been 315 Siouxland veterans making the three Honor Flight trips to D.C.
Mueller said that the trip in October was the last Siouxland Honor Flight. But if there are still veterans wishing to take this trip, there is a group out of Spirit Lake that is trying to get a trip together, or any WWII veteran can still send an application to: the Honor Flight Network, attention: Veteran Application ; 300 E. Auburn Ave. Springfield, OH 45505-4703. For more photos of the Oct. 13 flight, see the Honor Flight Photo Gallery on this website, and you can see pictures of all three Siouxland Honor Flights at www.siouxlandhonorflight.org.