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Praise, dignity ... and honor

PRINCETON — Several Bureau County veterans will be soaring out on the 25th Honor Flight of the Quad Cities this Thursday.

The day-long trip to Washington, D.C., will give veterans the opportunity to visit popular war memorials and museums and a chance to honor their sacrifices as well as those of their comrades. Top priority for the flight is given to World War II and Korean-era Veterans, or veterans with a terminal illness. The purpose of the flight is to honor heroes who were selfless in their military duty.

Korean veteran, Raymond Larson of Princeton will be among the men who will be flying out. Larson was in the Army during the Korean War.

During the conflict he was in basic training and was also stationed in Texas, where he was part of the First Missile Group and shot V-1 bombers from Germany, which soldiers studied and learned to build.

This will be Larson’s first trip ever to the nation’s capitol, and he is looking forward to just taking in the whole experience.

“I just want to see it all,” he said. “This is a very big thing in my life. I don’t know what more I could say.”

Korean veteran, Glen Rabe of Princeton will also be a passenger on the Honor Flight. For him, this experience will be “extra special” as he gets to fly out with his daughter at his side.

Aside from getting to visit the war memorials and air force museum, Rabe will also get to meet up with his grandson and his wife, who live in Washington, D.C.

The memorial Rabe is looking forward to seeing most is the Korean War Memorial, which has incorporated machine gun platoon soldier statues. Rabe said this memorial will really hit home for him because he was a squad leader in a machine gun platoon while at war.

Regarding coming home from Korea, Rabe explained a lot of veterans faced somewhat of a hardship when they returned.

“People didn’t recognize (the war) as much because there wasn’t a standoff,” he said. “We all came home, and that was the end of it. There was a Vietnam War Memorial before there was a Korean War Memorial.”

Rabe described Korea as the forgotten war.

“It’s wonderful the Honor Flight is now honoring us all. It really makes you cry,” he said.

At a recent meeting Rabe attended for the veterans going on the flight, he learned each flight costs $81,000, which is comprised of donated dollars.

“It takes about 200 volunteers to get everything up and running,” he said. “It’s a wonderful thing to do. It means a lot of people appreciate what we did.”

Rabe said his flight will be a mix of World War II vets, Korean vets and one terminally ill Vietnam vet.

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