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Two Palisade men prepare for Korean War Veterans Honor Flight PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Wednesday, 12 March 2014 20:30

Korean War Veterans William Lawless, left, and Ray Ridlen are getting ready to go to Washington D.C. later this month on a Korean War Veterans Honor Flight sponsored by Patriotic Productions. (Sheri Hink-Wagner | The Wauneta Breeze)

By Sheri Hink-Wagner

The Wauneta Breeze


Two area veterans, William Lawless and Ray Ridlen, are getting ready to head out on an Honor Flight for Korean war veterans. The trip, organized by Patriotic Productions in Omaha, will take place on Tuesday, March 25.

A total of 460 Korean War veterans from 200 communities will participate in the final Korean War Honor Flight. Organized by volunteers, Bill and Evonne Williams, Operation Airlift will consist of three charter aircrafts with a traveling party of 581, including volunteers and medical personnel.

Tonee Gay, Executive Director of Midlands Community Foundation, informed Patriotic Productions organizers last week that their goal of raising $500,000 to make the flight possible had been met. Midlands Community Foundation has been accepting all of the donations for the flight. Over 500 donors across the state made contributions to make the trip possible.

Lawless, Ridlen and their families will head east to Omaha on Monday, March 24 in preparation for their Honor Flight. They will attend a pre-flight dinner that evening and fly out to Washington, D.C. in the wee hours on Tuesday, March 25 for a full day of sight seeing and visits around the Capital.

Their itinerary includes stops at the Korean War Memorial, World War II Memorial, Iwo Jima Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery for the Changing of the Guard, and the Air Force Memorial. A highlight will be a group photo of all, plus the Nebraska Congressional delegation, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at noon. The charter buses will enjoy a police escort throughout the day, as they make their way to the various stops and tour the city briefly to drive by the capitol, Supreme Court building and other places of interest.

Lawless and Ridlen will be accompanied by several family members on the first stretch of the trip. Lawless will be joined by his wife, Martha, and his daughter Brenda Daniel. Ridlen will be accompanied by his wife, Thelma, daughter, Rhonda Ridlen, daughter Charlene Pfanstiel and her husband Grant.

While the two veterans are in Washington the family members will enjoy a full day of activities including a tour of the Joslyn Art Museum, lunch at Bella Terre with guest speaker Joy Huber, author of “Cancer with Joy,” movies, massages and manicures at the host hotel. That evening they will have a pizza supper and enjoy entertainment by “Grace Fully” and DeJa Blue.

At 10 p.m. that evening family members will travel to Epply Airfield to welcome the heros home at the Hy-Vee Homecoming for Heroes at Epply. The public is welcome to come out to welcome the heros home.

Bill and Evonne Williams of Patriotic Productions organized the first Korean Honor Flight, which took 135 Nebraska combat veterans to Washington D.C. last October–Bob Hannah of Wauneta was part of the Honor flight.

The Williamses also organized the Heartland Honor Flights in 2008 and 2009, when 1,500 Nebraska World War II veterans went on seven flights to see their World War II Memorial in Washington D.C.

Patriotic Productions has a mission of honoring our military and remembering our fallen. For more information about the organization see their website at

Editor’s note: A Patriotic Productions press release was used to compile parts of this story.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 March 2014 20:33