AMES, Iowa -- The Story County Freedom Flight Committee is sending off veterans to Washington D.C. Tuesday morning.
“I signed up for the very first one,” said Ira White, Army Veteran and participant in this year’s fight.
The Story County Freedom Flight honors Story County veterans from WWII, Korea and Vietnam for all of their sacrifices. White is an Army veteran and said the chance to go with other veterans is something he couldn’t pass up.
“Eleven out of 10. Just the camaraderie. I don’t know one person on this bus but it feels like I know everybody,” said White.
The day began at 3:00 a.m. for most but the veterans don’t have any issues with energy.
“It’s very long, we will get back around 11:30 tonight,” Renee Twedt, Story County Freedom Flight. She says the key to keeping everyone one up is constantly feeding them during the trip.
“We try to get them on a nice sugar high. We have 350 candy bars and granola bars,” said Twedt.
There are 162 veterans on this trip and all of the costs are paid for via community donations.
“This runs on all donation,” says Twedt. “It’s around $110,00 for one flight. $78,000 just to fuel the plane. It costs on average $650 person.”
White is a chief financial officer of local business and said he donated more money so a few extra veterans could make the trip.
“I thought it would be a better experience if I went with other Vietnam Vets,” said White. “It was something I wanted to do. I am very charity oriented.”
The tour will hit all of the major memorials but White is excited for one close to his heart.
“For me I am most excited to see Arlington National Cemetery and then the Vietnam War Memorial,” said White. “I will feel very emotional, I will have a few tears.”
This trip is the final Freedom Flight out of Story County. It’s not because of a lack of donations, but rather because most of the veterans who have wanted to participate have already made the journey.