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Iowa vet, 99, to make Honor Flight DC trip

WATERLOO, Iowa — After serving in two wars, John Woodcock has been out of the military for 60 years. But he has one more mission -- and this one's for the record books.

On Sept. 16, Woodcock, who served in the U.S. Army during World War II and the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War, will join other veterans of his era making an Honor Flight from the Waterloo Regional Airport to visit military memorials in Washington, D.C.

At 99 years old, he is believed to be the oldest veteran to make an Honor Flight out of Waterloo since the program started in 2011.

"There's no limits as far as age goes," said Black Hawk County Supervisor Frank Magsamen, co-organizer of Sullivan-Hartogh-Davis Post 730 Honor Flight. "It's how physically able they are to take the flight. It's a pretty long day, but it's not about the age."

Woodcock -- a widower who golfs regularly, plays in the percussion section of the New Horizons Band of senior citizens and until recently volunteered at Covenant Medical Center --- is ready to go.

"I think I'll be fine. I'm in real good shape," said Woodcock who was advertising manager at The James Black Co. department store in downtown Waterloo and at J.C. Penney at Crossroads Center prior to retirement in 1976. He also worked at retail stores in Colorado and the Twin Cities.

Woodcock, who will turn 100 Dec. 27, turned down an invitation in May, but friends and fellow veterans encouraged him to go.

He's going not for the recognition, but the fellowship with other veterans.

"I wasn't in combat," said Woodcock. "But it does a lot for those who had friends that died over there. Just to be with those guys and kind of help them along and give them a hand, that's probably real important to them."

Woodcock, a native of Hinsdale, Ill., entered the Army in 1942. He served in field artillery in several locations stateside. He trained troops and learned to fly, serving as an air observer. His unit was sent to the Philippines late in World War II and was training for the invasion of Japan when the war ended.

In a reserve unit in Denver, Colo., after the war, he joined an Air National Guard unit in 1950 that was called to active duty when hostilities broke out in Korea. He served in that unit until 1953.

Magsamen stressed Honor Flight is open to any World War II or Korea-era veteran, regardless of age or service.

"We encourage everyone to apply so they can get the opportunity to go," he said.

The flight is a one-day trip to tour Washington, D.C., military memorials like the National World War II, Vietnam and Korea memorials as well as Arlington National Cemetery. The public is encouraged to attend departures and homecomings at the Waterloo airport for the veterans.

Honor Flight applications are available at any Waterloo, Cedar Falls or Waverly Hy-Vee or www.shdpost730waterloohonorflight.org. The mailing address is Sullivan Hartogh Davis Post 730 Honor Flight, P.O. Box 182, Cedar Falls 50613.

For more information, or to make donatins, call co-organizer Craig White at 215-7104 or Magsamen at 830-8807.

Fundraising efforts are ongoing to continue flights in future years.

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©2014 Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier (Waterloo, Iowa). Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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