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Local man gears up for Honor Flight

T-R PHOTO BY SARA JORDAN-HEINTZ Kenny Duncan, 87, has waited several years to be chosen for a once-in-a-lifetime chance to take an Honor Flight. He and approximately 250 other Iowa veterans will get their chance May 21. A native of Marshalltown, Duncan served in the U.S. Navy from 1951-1955 during the Korean War.

Veteran Kenny Duncan, 87, has waited several years to be chosen for a once-in-a-lifetime chance to take an Honor Flight. He and approximately 250 other Iowa veterans will get their chance May 21 for the Fourth Annual Central Iowa Honor Flight.

A native of Marshalltown, Duncan served in the U.S. Navy from 1951-1955 during the Korean War.

“I knew I was going to be drafted and I wasn’t crazy about spending my time in a foxhole, so one of my other friends enlisted in the Navy and I thought that sounded pretty good,” Duncan said.

At 20 years old, he entered military service, traveling to San Diego, Calif. for basic training. He was then sent to Jacksonville, Fla. and Memphis, Tenn. for additional schooling to become an aviation machinist’s mate with the job of inspecting, testing, repairing and adjusting aircraft engines.

“I was kind of into airplanes, even though I never flew one, so I asked to get into the air branch of the Navy,” he said. “I got a chance to ride along one time, and taking off of that postage stamp in the middle of the ocean is something else.”

He spent most of his time in the service stationed in the South Pacific and had the chance to see Okinawa, Formosa and Hong Kong. He even climbed Mt. Fuji with some of his buddies. The veteran spent most of his time at the Naval Air Facility in Atsugi, Japan. He said that while he never saw combat, one of the planes he helped repair was shot down. On board had been some of his friends.

“I’m proud of what I had done in the service. It was the best thing I had ever done and I’m sorry I never made a career of it,” Duncan said.

Upon returning to Marshalltown, he worked at Sieg Automotive then Fisher Controls for 30 years. A few years ago, he applied for an Honor Flight but didn’t hear back right away.

Participants will attend a send-off dinner on the 20th at the Ron Pearson Center in West Des Moines. The Honor Flight committee raised $300,000 with the help of area Hy-Vee stores to make this trip possible. Starting early in the morning, geting back to Iowa late that night, the veterans will spend a full day touring Washington, D.C.

“I’m looking forward to the flight itself and seeing the different monuments — like the Korean and Vietnam — and hopefully meeting a few more veterans,” he said.

The Honor Flight Network is a national non-profit organization that flies these vets to the nation’s capital to see the memorials dedicated to their military service.

To learn more, visit www.honorflight.org

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Contact Sara Jordan-Heintz at 641-753-6611 or sjordan@timesrepublican.com