Twenty-five World War II veterans from Kansas and Missouri
took part in an Honor Flight to the WWII memorial in Washington,
D.C., with the help of volunteers and guardians from Grace
Community Church, in Overbrook.
Jeremy Gaston | Editor
OVERBROOK—Months of planning commenced Friday as members
of Grace Community Church (GCC), Overbrook, hosted their second
Honor Flight, taking 25 area veterans to visit the National
World War II memorial in Washington, D.C.
“It was a very emotional trip,” said Marshall
Madill, Overbrook, on of the several volunteers assisting
with the trip.
The flight including veterans from Lawrence, Topeka, Tonganoxie,
Wichita, Leawood, Ottawa and Missouri. Several vets chosen
from waiting lists on the Honor Flight Network along with
a few were relatives of members of the church, including Madill’s
uncle, Wayne Madill, Wichita.
“The veterans were just continually excited and overwhelmed,”
Madill said. “The expressions on their face and whole
attitude of the flight were great all the way back to the
church on Saturday.”
The group left GCC around 3 a.m. Friday morning. They arrived
in D.C. just before 10 a.m., and spent the rest of the day
visiting sites around the city, including the WWII, Vietnam
and Iwo Jima memorials. They spent the night in the city before
flying back in the morning. It was the first overnight Honor
Flight by an area organization.
“It’s so tough on the vets to do it all in one
day,” said trip organizer Brian Spencer. “I wanted
to take a trip, see how it went spending the night, what logistical
problems we have. See if we could do it as a school group
again in the future.”
Spencer, superintendent at USD 420, has made several Honor
Flights with Lyndon High School, in addition to helping start
programs at Southern Coffey County, Concordia and Jackson
Heights. It was the church’s second flight, and Spencer’s
“The flight schedules don’t allow as much stuff
as you’d like to do in one day, Spencer said. “That’s
what allowed us to go to Arlington National Cemetery. That
was a highlight of the trip.”
While at the cemetery, Spencer and other guardians on the
trip slipped away to find the burial site of Rufus Poole,
husband of veteran Edna Pool, 93, Lawrence, who was on the
trip. They first found the grave of a civil war veteran buried
in 1960, but later made their way to the columbarium where
Rufus Poole’s remains were kept.
“We rented a taxi for her and her son,” Spencer
said. “I was able to accompany them to the columbarium
It was the first time Edna had been to see the site of her
husband’s remains since his death in 1985.
“I was deeply pleased to be able to visit the actual
site,” Poole said. “It had been a lot of years.
“Spencer made special efforts to get us there,”
Poole said. “I can’t say enough for that man.
He just made sure we hade a smooth, happy trip.”
Edna served from 1942-47, first in the Aleutian Islands and
later ending the war in a field hospital attached to General
George Patton’s army. Rufus Poole served in the Navy
for 10 years, but the two met in their hometown of Colby,
where they lived until his death. She moved to Lawrence shortly
after to be with family.
Edna had contacted a previous Honor Flight in Holton, but
was referred to GCC Pastor Rodney Caldwell. Caldwell was in
charge of organizing veterans for the trip, but was also able
to accompany his grandfather, a WWII veteran from Tonganoxie.
“That was a special time for me,” Caldwell said.
“He was so overwhelmed and didn’t know what to
expect. It was neat to see him get on there.”
The trip was also Caldwell’s first Honor Flight experience.
“It was pretty special,” Caldwell said. “To
see the look on their faces and the appreciation. They just
kept saying thanks on the way home.”
• For more information, or to donate, volunteer or participate
in the Honor Flight Network, visit www.honorflight.org.