Bill Williams has always been a World War II history buff. That's why the former school teacher jumped at the opportunity to organize the Heartland Honor Flight program.
Williams is a proud American and he wears his respect for our war veterans on his sleeve...and actually, on the rest his shirt as well. On Friday, an article of Bill's clothing summed it up perfectly. On the front it simply read, Heartland Honor Flight and on the back it stated, "If you can read this...thank a teacher. If you can read this in English...thank a veteran."
There were 7 flights taken and they were all courtesy of the curious mind of Williams. His patriotic revelation occured in the fall of 2007. He says, "I remember sitting in my Laz-e-boy and there was a newspaper article about honor flight and I thought if it can be done in other states why not Nebraska." Bill and his wife Evonne answered that question quickly, "Before you knew it we were knee-deep in paper work and phone calls and loving every minute, he only fired me once, that says a lot!", recalls Evonne.
When he reflects on the Heartland Honor Flight program in the future, Bill is confident that some of his best memories will be the friendships that he made, "They'll look you straight in the eye and grab my hand and just stare me right in the eye and tell me how much they appreciate this and it's gets pretty emotional because it's just something that all you can do is say well we're glad to do it."
The labor of love has been so enjoyable for the Bill, Evonne and their four sons they're already dreading life after the honor flights. Evonne says, "It's gonna be hard we've fallen in love with a lot of these guys and it's just been so God blessed in so many ways with the relationships, the funding, volunteers, new friends we just want to keep having the parties so we can keep seeing everybody cause it's so much fun." Bill adds, "It's wonderful for our whole family. For Evonne and our four boys have all been involved in it and for us as a family, it's just been a tremendous opportunity for us to work on something together.
Through the tireless efforts of the Williams family, countless hours from many, many volunteers and a million dollars in donations a total of 1,500 World War II veterans were able to make the trip to Washington. And it was literally a state-wide effort as veterans from more than 200 Nebraska communities were involved in the 7 flights.