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|2/1/2014 ||Email this article Print this article |
Family's gift will give veteran honor flight experience
|A special day for father and son. Don Heiar of Clinton (left) acted as the guardian for his dad, Lloyd, during the Quad Cities Honor Flight in November of 2010. Lloyd says he couldn’t believe how much there was to see. The last time he was in Washington, D.C., was right after World War II when he marched in a parade down Pennsylvania Avenue with president Truman in attendance.
Photo by Mary Rueter|
Many who have had the privilege of experiencing it have described the Quad Cities Honor Flight as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Thanks to a generous donation by the Lloyd Heiar family, another lucky veteran will be able to enjoy this exceptional event.
Heiar, who is a veteran of the United States Army and resides in Clinton, went on the honor flight Nov. 8, 2010.
He admits, initially, going on the trip wasn't something he really wanted to do. It was an honor Heiar didn't believe he had truly earned.
"I was in the Army for a year and a half," he relates. "I didn't do any fighting. I thought there were other guys who were more deserving. But a couple of people from the Legion encouraged me to sign up so eventually, I did."
Heiar's daughter, Bonnie Oliver of Charlotte, says her dad going on the honor flight enabled her and the rest of the family to learn more about his days in the military.
"We got the pictures out, put them in a book and had him tell us his story," Oliver shares. "It's especially nice for the grandkids to be able to see the photographs, to know what he looked like and what his life was like at that time."
Heiar says his trip to Washington, D.C., went off without a hitch and he was amazed by how much there was to see.
The experience was such a positive one that this year, before Christmas - unbeknownst to Heiar - the family decided to pay it forward and allow a fellow veteran the chance to go on the honor flight.
A selfless gift
Every year, the Heiars exchange gift cards for Christmas.
Six of the nine siblings live locally, and they decided to change things up a bit.
"We wanted to do something different," Oliver explains. "We tossed around a few ideas, such as making a donation in dad's name. We wondered where we could donate the money and we came up with the honor flight."
The family also opted not to tell their dad and chose instead to keep it a surprise until their holiday gathering at Heiar's son, Don's, house in Clinton.
The gift to be given in Heiar's name was displayed in a very creative way. An envelope containing the money donated by family members was placed in Heiar's father, Norbert's, helmet from World War I. Also included was Norbert's tin cup that has the name "Heiar" etched on it and some greenery for esthetic purposes.
At the end of the night, approximately 40 relatives presented Heiar with the donation and broke the news it would be made in his name.
Oliver had contacted Bob Morrison, marketing executive at Ridgecrest Village, a senior center, retirement and assisted living facility in Davenport. Morrison is the hub director for the honor flights and was the one to whom Heiar gave the donation Jan. 16.
Morrison was very appreciative of the gift and said he truly appreciates the support.
Word began to spread about the Heiars' decision to pay it forward, particularly on Facebook where a photo of Heiar presenting the donation to Morrison received 110 "likes" and generated dozens of comments including, "Neat idea!" "What a great memory for your family!" "Awesome!" "Inspiring!" and "What a nice thing to do."
Regardless, the family was pleased it achieved exactly what it had set out to do.
"(Morrison) told us the donation would be enough to cover the cost of a veteran's flight," Oliver notes. "That's
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