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– Messenger photo by Bill Shea
People who attended the Brushy Creek Area Flight of Honor banquet Wednesday night wave small American flags as Madilyn Larson and Ava Carlson sing “God Bless America.” Larson and Carlson are students at Manson Northwest Webster Elementary School in Barnum.

The hundreds of veterans preparing to head to Washington DC on the Brushy Creek Area Flight of Honor have their own reasons for making the trip.

Marine veteran Edna Maruska can summarize her reasoning very simply.

Asked what inspired her to go on Honor Flight, Maruska replied, “They told me I could.”

By any standards, the Carroll resident, who previously lived in Lake City, won her trip to see the country’s war memorials in Washington.

She is 101 years old and served in the US Navy from 1943 to 1945. She is the only WWII veteran who will be on the next flight.

– Messenger photo by Bill Shea Edna Maruska, 101, joins the cheers for a singer Wednesday night at the Brushy Creek Area Flight of Honor banquet. Maruska, of Carroll and formerly of Lake City, served in the US Navy from 1943 to 1945 during World War II.

Maruska spoke about her service in the Navy on Wednesday during the banquet that serves as a prelude to the flight. The banquet was held in the auditorium building of the Webster County Fairgrounds.

“I just thought it would be a good thing to do, so I did it,” she said of her decision to enlist in the Navy.

During World War II, female members of the Navy were known as WAVES, which was an acronym for Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service.

Maruska’s Navy service took her to Hunter College in New York; Great Lakes Naval Training Center in Illinois; and Pasco, Washington, before arriving in Livermore, California. There she worked in a hospital on a base where Navy pilots were trained. She said she worked in the surgical and outpatient departments.

Another passenger on the next flight, Army veteran Jim Gilbert of Fort Dodge, did not serve during a war as Maruska did. He was, however, in South Korea during an incident that appeared to lead to war.

– Photo of Bill Shea’s Army Veteran Messenger Gary Ipsen of Story City reviews some information about the upcoming Brushy Creek area honor flight with his wife, Peg Ipsen. They attended the Honor Flight banquet Wednesday night at the Webster County Fairgrounds auditorium building.

Gilbert served from 1973 to 1976. He said he was a “radio operator and repairman” in the 25th Signals Battalion.

The incident that appeared to threaten war involved a tree in the middle of the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea. According to Gilbert, both sides agreed that the tree should be pruned. Both sides sent personnel to the DMZ to do this.

Gilbert said there was disagreement over how the tree should be pruned. He said a truck loaded with armed North Korean troops entered the DMZ, and in the incident that followed, two Americans were killed.

“The whole country was scared,” Gilbert said. “We thought we were going to war.”

Eventually, tensions were calmed without further bloodshed.

– Photo of messenger by Bill Shea’s Army Veterans, Jim Gilbert, left, and Gary Vaughn, chat Wednesday night at the Brushy Creek Area Flight of Honor banquet held at Webster County Fairgrounds. The men of Fort Dodge will travel on the May 7 Honor Flight to see the nation’s war memorials in Washington, D.C.

Gilbert said his brother and brother-in-law encouraged him to participate in Honor Flight.

He remembers them saying, “If you get a chance, you need to go.”

During the trip, Gilbert will be paired up with one of his neighbors, Gary Vaughn. Vaughn was in the Army’s 25th Infantry Division from 1962 to 1965. He said he controlled the direction of fire for the artillery.

Vaughn, who has never been to Washington, said he is looking forward to seeing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Former Army Airman Edward Allen of Humboldt visited Washington while stationed at Fort Eustis, Virginia. However, much of his active military service was in Fort Riley, Kansas, with the 18th Aviation Co. One of his jobs was transporting personnel and equipment to Nike’s remote missile silos. He later served as a pilot for the Iowa State Patrol and was chief of police in Humboldt.

– Messenger photo by Bill Shea Madilyn Larson, left, and Ava Carlson sing “God Bless America” during the Brushy Creek Area Honor Flight Banquet on Wednesday night.

The Brushy Creek area honor flight will depart Fort Dodge Regional Airport in the early morning of May 7. It will land at Dulles International Airport in the suburbs of Washington, Virginia. There, veterans will board buses for a tour of the country’s war memorials. They will return to Fort Dodge late at night.

– Messenger Photo by Bill Shea A large crowd of veterans, families of veterans and Brushy Creek Area Honor Flight staff members filled the auditorium building at Webster County Fairgrounds on Wednesday night for a feast. The dinner served as a prelude to the May 7 flight that will take veterans to Washington, DC, to see the country’s war memorials.

– Messenger photo by Bill Shea
A large American flag flying from the extended ladder of a Fort Dodge ladder truck greeted attendees at the Brushy Creek Area Flight of Honor banquet at Webster County Fairgrounds Wednesday night.

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