The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.
The Quill newspaper had a special thrill recently when it was privileged to travel to Washington DC, our nation's Capitol on one of the many HONOR FLIGHTS taken by Veterans. It traveled along with John Allaman of Rozetta and Jesse Higbee and other veterans:
This Take The Quill Along feature was saved with added thoughts from Veteran John Allaman, as a special tribute for Memorial Day.
Jack Brokaw of Raritan and Raymond West of Biggsville were on the Honor Flight on the day following the trip Jess and John were on.
"The Honor Flight to Washington DC on April 23 was a day I will never forget," said John Allaman of Rural Route Kirkwood.
"The weather was perfect, the plane and 3 buses were equipped to handle very feeble veterans, and the attendants were wonderful."
John said many of the veterans could walk with no problems, but some were on oxygen and a few had to be lifted into the plane seats but "all were taken care of skillfully."
He said what impressed him the most were the welcoming lines at the Moline airport and at the Dulles terminal near Washington.
"There were long lines of people clapping their hands, shaking our hands and thanking us for our service. This caused our eyes to moisten and we grew lumps in our throat."
He said that even at the different memorials, young school children seeing their yellow Honor Flight T-shirts would come up and thank them for their service.
"It was most impressive. The memorials we visited were also very impressive."
The first one they visited was the World War II Memorial which is located on the Mall between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument.
"It is beautiful with its gray marble construction and many fountains. The Freedom Wall is sobering with its 4000 gold stars, each one representing 100 service men killed in World War II. Other memorials we visited were the Air Force Memorial, the Iwo Jima Memorial, the Women's Memorial, the Viet Nam Memorial, and the Korean Memorial. All were impressive and well maintained," he said
The final highlight of their trip was the visit to Arlington Cemetery where they witnessed the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
How very moving to recall all that it stands for.
"We left Moline at 7:00 AM and we returned at about 10:45 PM tired, but thrilled by the wonderful trip."
John said, "The Quad City Honor Flight organization under the guidance of Bob Morrison does a wonderful job in organizing these trips. Each veteran is assigned a guardian to care for them.
"These guardians, and all the other volunteers are special people. With them everything went smoothly despite the problems associated with guiding and caring for 187, old World War II veterans.
In the "Take The Quill Along" picture with John is Jess Higbee is 94 years of age but still in good health.
He farmed in the Biggsville area until he retired and moved to Monmouth. He was inducted into the Army in July of 1941 and discharged in July of 1945.
He was a member of the 27th Field Artillery of the 1st Armored Division and took part in heavy fighting in North Africa and Italy.
His unit took part in the invasion of North Africa and was at the Anzio Beachhead in Italy.
John was inducted into the Army on March 3, 1943 and was discharged on February 7, 1946.
After attending Aircraft Radio Repair school at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, John was assigned to the 915th Signal Company, Depot Aviation. In this unit he worked in a shop repairing radio and radar equipment near air bases in North Africa and Italy.
Probably the most impressive event during his time in the army, John said, was a visit to the Dachau Concentration Camp shortly after it was liberated.
"Area commanders wanted us to see the camp for ourselves because they feared that in the future some people would try to claim the massacre never happened."