LEXINGTON – The second Dawson County Heroes Flight took off from Lexington on Thursday as 24 veterans from Vietnam, Korea and even one from World War II left to get a chance to visit their nation’s capital and for many, to get the thank you they never got when they left the service.
When Max McFarland and Steve Zerr began to organize the trip that took play in April, they weren’t sure it would even get off the ground.
Application were slow and donations were slower according to Zerr.
“There was a point when we were very worried about coming up with the necessary funds,” Zerr said. “Then they started to come in slowly and eventually in a flood.”
Give BIG Lexington was a big part of the fundraising effort McFarland said.
“It cost roughly $2,500 a veteran to go and we ask nothing from them,” McFarland said. “We ask the escorts to pay $500 which is about the cost of their plane ticket.”
The total expenditure is about $51,000. Zerr said that is a rough estimate as they look for the best deals out there.
The group of 24 veterans and support staff left Lexington at about 2:30 on Thursday in a bus provided by Lexington Public Schools. They will go to Omaha and catch a flight to Reagan International Airport in Washington.
36th District Senator Matt Williams spoke to the group. He thanked them for their service to the country.
“Freedom isn’t free,” Williams said, “thank you for protecting our freedoms.”
Roger Wahlgren, of Gothenburg, was excited for his first trip to the nation’s capital. He said it means a lot to get to go.
“This is really the first recognition I’ve gotten for being drafted and spending two years of my life,” Wahlgren said.
Wahlgren stated the he was happy to serve, but that maybe freedom means more to him now.
“Freedoms mean a lot more to me now,” he said. “As you get older you realize the freedoms you do have and appreciate them a little more.”
The fight will return on Saturday.