In September 2023, our Wired Production Group CEO, Ron Rausch, was invited to be a small part of a big moment in the lives of many Iowa veterans. Ron’s father, Leon (Lee) Rausch, was invited to take part in the 48th trip to Washington, D.C., with the Eastern Iowa Honor Flight. This special one-day experience was led by volunteers from Eastern Iowa Honor Flight with 85 veterans on board alongside their guardians. Ron was invited to be his father’s special guardian for the fall flight. 

Photo of all 85 veterans from Eastern Iowa Honor Flight 48 in Washington DC in 2023

What is Eastern Iowa Honor Flight?

Eastern Iowa Honor Flight is a nonprofit organization in Iowa that is known for sending veterans to Washington, D. C. to visit historical sites and memorials dedicated to their service. It is a local chapter of the Honor Flight Network, serving a mission to celebrate America’s veterans by inviting them to share in a day of honor at our nation’s memorials. Through this network of honor flights across the country, more than 20,000 veterans are celebrated each year. 

Since 2009, Eastern Iowa Honor Flight has brought more than 4,500 veterans from Eastern Iowa to our nation’s capital. During the trip, Eastern Iowa Honor Flight volunteers coordinate visits to memorials, including the WWII Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, the USMC Memorial, and the USAF Memorial. Veterans also take part in a city tour, where they can see the Smithsonian, the White House, and various other historical buildings. 

Who Travels? How to Apply for EIHF

All veterans are eligible to apply and participate in an Honor Flight. Veterans selected for the flight are based on the date the Eastern Iowa Honor Flight organization receives the application. With the passing of greater numbers of WWII Veterans, the Eastern Iowa Honor Flight has now opened up priority on flights to include Korean War and Vietnam-era veterans as well as those with advanced health concerns. Disabled veterans and veterans with medical needs are encouraged to apply to participate. It is the goal of the Eastern Iowa Honor Flight organization to accommodate as many disabled veterans as possible, and they provide two registered nurses and two EMTs on every flight. Eastern Iowa Honor Flight also provides wheelchairs and volunteers to assist veterans who have mobility issues. 

These flights are only open to veterans. However, each veteran is required to bring a guardian, with an associated cost of $550.00. The Honor Flight is completely free for all veterans. 

How It Works: Travel Day with Eastern Iowa Honor Flight

On the scheduled day of flight, veterans, guardians, and volunteers are asked to arrive at the Eastern Iowa Airport at 5:30AM. Eastern Iowa Honor Flight privately charters their flights with Sun Country Airline so they do not depend on commercial airlines. Flights are direct from Cedar Rapids to Reagan International Airport. A light breakfast is served to veterans on the morning of the flight at the airport.

Photo of the United States Marine Corps War Memorial captured during Eastern Iowa Honor Flight

The itinerary for the day in Washington, D.C., is jam-packed to ensure that the veterans are able to visit each special location and capture the moment. Itinerary stops include but are not limited to the Washington Monument, the WWII Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, the USMC Memorial, and the USAF Memorial. These stops are surrounded by a bus tour of downtown Washington, D.C. that allows veterans to take in all of the sights, including our nation’s capitol, the White House, and the J. Edgar Hoover Building  – just to name a few. 

At the end of the day, the return flight from Washington, D.C., to Cedar Rapids lands at the Eastern Iowa Airport around 9:00PM. Typically, there are large groups of individuals, families, friends, and other local supporters welcoming veterans home in the airport. It is common for veterans to be welcomed home with a presentation of the flags, live music, and other special entertainment.

Photo of the Eastern Iowa Honor Flight Welcome Home Celebration with Rausch Family at the Eastern Iowa Airport

Lee Rausch: A Day in Washington, D.C.

As a US Army veteran, Lee Rausch was invited to participate in the Eastern Iowa Honor Flight after his daughter submitted the application for him. Due to unforeseen circumstances, his daughter was unable to make the flight as his guardian, so his son and our CEO, Ron Rausch, stepped in to join him in this experience. 

“It was an experience I’ll never forget,” shares Lee Rausch.

Before the flight, family members of the veterans were invited to write letters to their beloved veterans to be delivered during “mail call” on the flight home. It was incredible special for the veterans on the flight to receive these “letters from home.” Lee received letters from each of his children and grandchildren, which totals 18 letters to read. It certainly made the flight home go very fast after a bit of a delay getting in the air and heading back to Cedar Rapids. 

Photo of Lee Rausch and son Ron Rausch sitting on the bus next to each other during the Washington, D.C. bus tours on Eastern Iowa Honor Flight
Photo of Lee Rausch standing in front of the US Marine Corps Memorial
Photo of two US veterans and their guardians posing in front of the WWII Memorial pond in Washington, D.C.

In celebration of Eastern Iowa Honor Flight’s upcoming 51st flight, Wired Production Group is proud to provide a donation to Eastern Iowa Honor Flight as they continue to serve our nation’s veterans. Thank you to Dick Bell, Lynette Voss, and all of the staff and volunteers who are a part of Eastern Iowa Honor Flight. 

Five staff members from Wired Production Group present $500 donation check to Eastern Iowa Honor Flight

To all of our veterans who did not receive their own homecoming after their times of service, we want to say: WELCOME HOME! 

How to Support Eastern Iowa Honor Flight

If you are interested in supporting the Eastern Iowa Honor Flight organization, here are a few ways that you can show your support: 

  • Donate: All donations are welcome, no matter how big or small. Eastern Iowa Honor Flight is a 100% volunteer organization with zero paid staff, which means every penny donated goes to support the honor flights. As a 501(c)3 organization, it does not receive government funding and relies on individual, corporate, and organization donations. It does NOT accept donations from WWII veterans (they have given enough). You can learn more about how to donate here.
  • Volunteer: Eastern Iowa Honor Flight programming would not be possible without volunteers. If you are interested in sharing your time and talents with the organization, please submit an application to volunteer on their website
  • Attend Homecoming: If you want to show your support in a short-term but impactful way, consider attending one of the honor flight homecoming events at the Eastern Iowa Airport. You can view the Eastern Iowa Honor Flight schedule online and make plans to join veterans as they come home from their honor flight around 9:00 PM on the night of scheduled flights. Parking for attendees at the airport is free. 

For more information on upcoming flights, new volunteer opportunities, and ways to support the Eastern Iowa Honor Flight, please follow Eastern Iowa Honor Flight on Facebook