The 53rd Honor Flight from the Central Missouri recently returned from their trip to Washington D.C.
On the flight, was 91-year-old World War II and Korean War veteran Howard Bowman from Marceline.
Howard Bowman was born in 1928 near Jacksonville, Fla. and signed up for the U.S. Army when he was barely 18 years old. Bowman returned to the U.S. around 1945 after three years with Army, but could not find work.
“When I came back from the war many steam engines had been changed out for diesel/electric locomotives,” Bowman said.
Bowman was a boilermaker and had picked up the trade while he was stationed in Korea during World War II. After traveling for a bit, Bowman headed to California to re-enlist, this time for the U.S. Navy. Bowman attached mine clearing equipment to submarines.
After more four years serving in Korea, Bowman headed back to the U.S. once again. Bowman moved to Marceline after marrying his wife Nora in 1987. The couple met in Florida, but moved back to Nora’s hometown of Marceline shortly thereafter.
Nowadays Bowman can be found hanging around Pioneered Skilled Nursing in Marceline. His wife Nora is still by his side nearly everyday.
“We like to hold hands, he still holds my hand all the time,” Nora said.
Recently, Bowman was picked to attend the Honor Flight Program. The program takes WWII veterans, Korean War veterans and Vietnam veterans to Washington D.C. to see the sights and meet other veterans.
The closest Honor Flight hub is in Columbia, Mo. and has taken more than 7,000 veterans on such flights. The 53rd flight left Missouri for D.C. July 5 and returned the next week.
Tammy Adams is the transporter for Pioneer Skilled Nursing and has been with Bowman for two years. Adams drove Bowman to Columbia and could not believe everything the Honor Flight does for veterans.
“It was amazing, it really was,” Adams said.
For Bowman, he is happy people still think about veterans.
“The trip meant a lot to me, it made me feel good,” Bowman says. “It’s nice to know that we aren’t forgotten.”
Bowman was one of two veterans who served in WWII and the Korean War on the trip.
Each Honor Flight participant is paired with a guardian for the trip. Bowman’s guardian was Michael Cox. Cox is also a veteran having served in Vietnam and has been an Honor Flight guardian since 2010.
Cox says he was Bowman’s copilot.
“As a guardian I’m here to help [Bowman] with anything he needed,” Cox said. “I made sure we got breakfast in the morning and took him to all of the war memorials. I was with him every step of the way.”
Cox has been on 42 Honor Flights and hopes to attend many more.
The Honor Flight director for Central Missouri is Steve Paulsell. Paulsell books all of the flights and makes sure there are always flights for veterans.
Paulsell says he expected to start small.
“Our original goal was to have at least two Honor Flights a year,” Paulsell said. “Since joining the organization in 2009 we’ve had 53 flights and are already planning our 54th and 55th flights.”
One hundred and ten veterans were welcomed back from D.C. with Bowman for a welcome home ceremony. The ceremony took place at Courtyard by Marriott hotel in Columbia, Mo.
According to Paulsell, he enjoys working with the veterans.
“It’s an honor for me to share the flight with you,” Paulsell said. “We appreciate all you’ve done for us.”
The next Honor Flight from Central Missouri is scheduled for Aug. 14. Applications for the Honor Flight can be filled out online.