A large crowd enjoyed lunch and a brief ceremony at the Heartland Museum of Military Vehicles Wednesday as 25 area veterans and their escorts departed on the Dawson County Hero Flight. The lunch was sponsored by the Heartland Wounded Veterans Project and prepared by Around the Block Catering. The Bonneville Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution helped serve it.
The ceremony was opened with patriotic music from the Sandoz Elementary Honor Choir and Sen. Matt Williams offered remarks. He told the veterans “we are so proud of you and so honored to be here to celebrate your honor today.” Hats, name tag lanyards and a bag was distributed to the veterans by the Eddyville American Legion Auxiliary Unit #225.
Veterans chosen for the flight come from 13 communities and five different counties. All of the veterans served in the 1960’s and 70’s, two of them were Purple Heart recipients.
ANSLEY – George “Ted” Govier and Lyle Lovitt
CALLAWAY – Dennis Malcom
COZAD – Ken Anderson and Alan Anderson
EDDYVILLE – Stan McFarland, Gary Rohde and Charles Watkinson
ELM CREEK – Jack Shubert
ELWOOD – Ray Yeutter
EUSTIS – Bob Dutton and Dean Wolf
GOTHENBURG – Courtney Schroeder and Leon Vogel
KEARNEY – Erwin Cox and James Goedert
LEXINGTON – John Kerner, Tom Nelson, Gary Schultz, Bernard Svoboda and Alan White
MERNA – Bruce Kennedy
OCONTO – Ron Lauby and Maynard Struempler
OVERTON – Larry Johnson
John Kerner of Lexington, entered the Air Force in 1970 and served 4 years as a cook. He was looking forward to the trip and when he learned his daughter would be his escort it made it “all the much better”. Kerner was referring to his daughter Carrie Kerner, who’s in active duty as an Aircraft Maintenance Officer. She drove 10 hours from her Air Force base in New Mexico to accompany her father on the trip.
The Hero Flight left Lexington on a motorcoach with an escort by Patriot Guard Riders, Lexington Police Department and Dawson County Sheriff’s Office. This is the fourth such trip organized by a local steering committee of volunteers.
Dawson County Hero Flight is organized for the sole purpose of honoring American Veterans for all of their sacrifices and service above self. The committee is still accepting donations and looking for veterans for future flights.
Dawson County Hero Flight Committee members include: Max McFarland, Theresa McFarland, Mike Schulte, Katy Schulte, Barry Bauer, Sandy Watkinson, Katie Arndt, MJ Hart, Mike Schmeeckle and Ex-Officio Member Steve Zerr.
Dick Pierce of Miller was recognized as helping get the first Hero Flights started in Dawson County, Lexington Public Schools supplied the motorcoach for travel to and from Omaha. The Lexington Community Foundation serves as fiscal agent.\