Veteran Bob Boone displays the five shirts that represent the five Honor Flights he has been a part of.
Veteran Serves To Capture Memories (photos)10:06 AM November 08, 2018
Bob Boone is a proud veteran having served in the United States Air Force from 1970 through 1973 during the Vietnam War. While he keeps busy with various interests and hobbies there is one program that he has a particular love for; Honor Flights. That organization’s mission is to take veterans who served during war time to visit the national monuments in Washington D.C. at no cost.
Boone, a Prophetstown resident, served domestically and in Germany as an avionics instrument systems technician. Once he was discharged, he attended Sauk Valley Community College and studied computer programming which was in its infancy. He was eventually hired by Whiteside County to serve as its computer guru. He has since retired but keeps active calibrating voting machines.
Several years ago, Boone read a newspaper article that Honor Flight had begun accepting applications from Vietnam era veterans. He fill out a form and received a call about a year later inviting him on a flight. On April 21, 2016 he made his first Honor Flight to view the many military monuments in our nation’s capital.
On May 21st, 2005, six small planes flew 12 veterans to Washington, DC for the first Honor Flight. A combination of small planes and commercial flights were used to transport a total of 126 WWII veterans that first year. By 2017, there were 140 Honor Flight Network regional hubs across the United States. Now, HFN is escorting WWII, Korean War, and Vietnam War veterans to see their memorials in DC. At the end of the 2017 flying season, the network has escorted over 200,000 veterans to their memorials.
Each flight has guardians who are assigned to the veterans to assist them during the trip. After taking his flight, Boone has since served as a guardian on three other flights and most recently served as a bus captain who is responsible for a group of 55 during the trip. Anyone can serve as a guardian by filling out an application and paying a $400 fee.
Once the group of veterans is in Washington they are treated as VIPs including police escorts and special access to memorials. The local flights leave from the Quad Cities airport four times per year around 7:00 a.m. and return around 10:30 p.m. The veterans are often met by large groups at the airport terminals who welcome them or send them on their way. Boone says it is one of the highlights of the trip. Other special moments include the veterans receiving letters from family, friends, and schoolchildren that thank them for their service. “A lot of you guys have never been thanked for their service and suddenly to have family and little kids look up to them is very special. I was a guardian for a wheelchair-bound veteran and I remember a four-year-old running up giving him a hug.”
Upon returning from his initial honor flight Boone received a small memory book with photos from the day. He decided to become a contributor to the book by taking a group photo in front of the Lincoln Memorial on subsequent trips. He enjoyed capturing the moments so much he began to make personalized memory books for the one or two veterans he served as guardian on the trips.
Boone continues to improve his mementos and has produced eight books to date. The most recent editions are 28 pages long with 4 to 5 photos on each page. It takes the Veteran approximately two weeks after the flight to complete the books and then drives to the veteran’s house to personally deliver them. Boone says his recipients are thrilled with the gift and share it when they talk about the trip. Boone charges nothing for his books, but knows they are priceless to the Veterans that receive them.
His added touch of kindness to the Veterans on the Honor Flight trips makes him another great example of why we should all honor our Veterans this Veterans Day,
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