DAYTON — Owen Agenbroad served in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II and fought at the battle of Iwo Jima. In May, the Dayton resident was honored with a free trip to Washington, D.C., to visit the Iwo Jima Memorial, the World War II Memorial and the five other war memorials there.
Agenbroad, 89, was part of a group of more than 30 veterans who made the three-day trip, thanks to Inland Northwest Honor Flight, which is the regional hub of the nationwide Honor Flight Network.
Since 2005, the organization has provided free trips for thousands of World War II veterans to visit the war memorials in Washington, D.C. The Inland Northwest hub, which operates in Spokane, was formed in 2009 and has provided trips for 475 veterans to date.
The Honor Flight Network’s website says, “Since America felt it was important to build a memorial to the service and the ultimate sacrifice of her veterans, the Honor Flight Network believes it’s equally important that they actually get to visit and experience THEIR memorial.”
The flights are paid for by donations from friends, businesses, service groups and veterans’ organizations. World War II veterans have priority, along with all terminally ill veterans. However, the group hopes to eventually offer flights to younger veterans, if enough donations are received.
A native of Nampa, Idaho, Agenbroad moved to Dayton in 1958 to work for the Green Giant Co. He and wife Jan have lived in Dayton since.
Agenbroad’s group flew from Spokane to Baltimore on Southwest Airlines, one of the Honor Flight sponsors. They stayed in a hotel there and then were taken by bus to Washington the following day. Volunteer assistants, who paid their own way, accompanied the group, which included several wheelchair-bound veterans. The group was driven to each of the seven war memorials on the National Mall.
In the evening, after the veterans returned to Baltimore, a banquet was held in their honor in the hotel. On the third day, they flew back to Spokane.
Inland Northwest Honor Flight is encouraging World War II veterans from Southeastern Washington to sign up for one of the three honor flights scheduled for the remainder of 2012. Trips are filled on a first-come first-served basis.
More information about the honor flights can be found at inwhonorflight.org, or by calling 509-624-0222.
Applications for veterans wishing to make the trip are available on the website. Information for those wishing to volunteer or make a donation is also available there.
Agenbroad has created a display of photographs from his trip to Washington, which can be seen at the Dayton Chamber of Commerce Office, 166 E. Main St.