When Beverly Tipling, 78, of Mount Ayr entered the Air Force at the age of 18 in 1954, she had no idea
that her most fulfilling part of her service would come some 60 years later -- May 21, 2014.
That's the date Tipling joined
80 men that had served from World War II to Vietnam on an "Honor Flight" from the Cedar Rapids airport to Washington, D.C.
The Honor Flight Network began in 2005 to help World War II veterans visit the newly constructed World War II Memorial in
Washington, D.C. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, an estimated 640 World War II veterans die each day and
getting as many of these former soldiers to the memorial as possible was their mission. The program has since been expanded
to include veterans of the Korean and Vietnam wars.
Tipling, who served from from 1954-1959 and is originally from
Ida Grove, was one of these Korean era veterans taht was selected to take the flight. Tipling is the receipient (sic) of the
Korean Service Medal and was in the Air Force for over five. years.
"It was 80 men and me," said Tipling. "We were all
veterans, all friends. It was a very relaxed and loving experience."
Upon getting to the Cedar Rapids airport at 5:30 a.m. for their departure, the veterans were greeted by a large group of
people applauding and thanking them for their service. Each veteran was assigned a "guardian" for the day who helped
them on the flight and during tours in Washington, D.C.
The group, ushered around Washington, D.. in buses with
a motorcycle escort to avoid traffic, toured the World War II
Memorial, the Lincoln, Korean and Vietnam Memorials and [as] well as the Women's Memorial, which honors the 1.8 million women
who have served in the military during the history of the United States.
Also visited were Arlington National Cemetery,
the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Iwo Jima Memorial, Air Force and FDR Memorials.
Tipling said her favorite part
of the trip was, "The whole thing.
They just treated us like kings and queens."
The group returned to Cedar Rapids at 10:30 p.m., where Tipling said she
received another meaningful surprise.
"When we got back, I think the whole city of Cedar Rapids was there to greet us,"
said Tipling. "They really welcomed us back. They even had a band playing."
Tipling said that she received a number of
handmade cards from children, thanking her for her service. "It was overwhelming," she said.
She received a number of
plaques and medals while on the trip which she will send to the Ida Grove Historical Society for display there.
lasting memory of the trip was the welcome home reception, and walking through a long row of well-wishers.
through that line of people welcoming us back for all of the kids I knew and served with," said Tipling.
said it took her about three days to recover from the trip due to the amount of walking she did at the various historical
sights (sic), but it was all worth it.
"I remember all the tough times I had when I was in the service .... the KP
duty and such. This flight made up for all of that. It gave me something I really needed .... closure."
Photograph courtesy of Mount Ayr Record-News
Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, June of 2014