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The pair of businessmen has been adamant about staying in the background as much as possible, deflecting attention to the local veterans.
They and their wives, Connie Underwood and Sharon Becker, increasingly have devoted time to philanthropy.
The sight of massive granite slabs isn't the ultimate goal of such trips; the point is to coax more stories out of these humble or perhaps stoic veterans before it's too late.
Steve Livengood, a retired National Guardsman from Atlantic, stands in the "Field of Glory", a plot of land reserved for veterans in the Atlantic cemetery. Livengood, known as "Mr. Military" due to his heavy involvement in veterans and military activity in Atlantic, has been tapped to organize the upcoming Cass County Honor Flight for WWII veterans.(Photo: Christopher Gannon/The Register)
a triangle shape while a prayer is read.
Iowa's first flights funded with hundreds of thousands of dollars from companies Mbt Womens Clogs
Underwood's father trained engineers at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri during the Korean War.
They founded Becker Underwood bio ag company in 1982 in Ames, and sold controlling interest to a private equity firm in 2004. Then BASF bought the company for more than $1 billion in 2012.
"I had college professors that taught me a lot, but nobody taught me more than Leonard Kinney," Underwood says of a hired farm hand whom he worked alongside as a teenager.
Neither benefactor will be on board because, Underwood says, they "don't want to take a seat and deny a veteran a spot on the plane."
It's about "getting a bunch of these guys in one spot at one time," adds Jeff Becker, who with his business partner, Roger Underwood, is funding the Cass County flight (about $100,000) and enlisted Mr. Military to rally their hometown.
Supporting veterans 'most important thing I do'
philanthropists such as Bill Knapp hit the tarmac five years ago.
They're the sons of veterans. Becker's father, a World War II paratrooper, dropped into Normandy just before the D Day invasion and later that year earned a Silver Star for his role in a six man patrol behind enemy lines in Holland.
The first honor flight sprang up a decade ago as the brainchild of a retired Air Force captain in Ohio. An urgency to help usher the Greatest Generation on emotional, therapeutic pilgrimages to the new World War II Memorial spread nationwide and led to the creation of the Honor Flight Network that now boasts 137 chapters in 43 states.
like Hy Vee and Casey's and individual Vans Suede Gum Sole
So their honor flight was born. Nearly 200 local veterans (the oldest born in 1920, the youngest in 1983) have registered for 150 seats, although by last week not everybody had submitted their required applications.
"Please accept this on behalf of our grateful nation," he says, "with our condolences."
Becker and Underwood have known each other since preschool and graduated from Atlantic High School in 1976.
"We kind of looked at each other and said, 'Wow, you know, there's all these veterans in our hometown . that were very important to us as we grew up,' " Underwood says. "Fathers of our classmates, and people that we went to church with. And friends of our parents from their bridge and coffee clubs, and co workers. . And these people were important to us and still are."
Then Livengood squats down in front of the next of kin and offers the folded flag with a final message.
Livengood is the primary organizer of the Cass County Honor Flight scheduled for June 17.
He's the member of the color guard whose duty is to fold the flag draped over the casket. He gently bends the Stars and Stripes into Vans Fog Low
Livengood and his committee meet this week to hash out the final passenger list.
"After this (the veteran has) received closure," says Jim McLaughlin, chairman of the national network, Skechers Lights Shoes "and now all the sudden he may bring the trunk out of the basement and talk about what he's done."
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