Rich Noelken, U.S. Army Veteran

Legacy Place Waterloo is the home of U.S. Army veteran of World War II, Rich Noelken, who traveled to Washington D.C. on August 25th to be honored for his service and sacrifices.

The Honor Flight’s mission is to provide a free round trip transportation from the Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport in Springfield, IL to Reagan National Airport in Washington D.C. for veterans to visit their memorials. Sites visited on the one-day trip included the World War II Memorial, Air and Space Museum, US Marine Corps Memorial, US Air Force Memorial and viewing of the Pentagon, the Arlington National Cemetery, Tomb of the Unknowns, Lowering of the Flag Ceremony and Changing of the Guard.

Noelken, born and raised in Monroe County was one of over 130 veterans chosen for the August 25thHonor Flight to Washington, D.C. for “One More Tour with Honor.” Sitting alongside him was his son-in-law, Ron Polka, who he had chosen to be his guardian to accompany him on the once in a lifetime experience. Each veteran was able to choose one guardian to travel by their side and share these memories. When the plane reached its destination, Noelken and the other passengers were greeted on the runway by two firetrucks on either side of the plane, spraying water almost 75 feet up in the air, making a huge archway for their arrival.

“It was absolutely incredible. Such an honor and an amazing experience,” said Noelken. “The whole day brought back many memories of my past service and each memorial we visited was very emotional. It was incredible and I’d do it all over again.”

As the Honor Flight returned to Springfield, they were immediately greeted by Illinois Governor, Bruce Rauner and wife, Diana Rauner. They were also welcomed by hundreds of people in the terminal carrying signs reading “Welcome, Veterans!” and a Scottish bagpipe band playing music. A meet-and-greet soon followed after the welcoming reception that allowed visitors to meet and thank the veterans for their service.

“We couldn’t be more appreciative and grateful for Rich’s services and we’re so honored that he’s a part of our family here at Legacy Place,” explained Barb Muench, Executive Director of Legacy Place Waterloo.

For additional information about Rich and his Honor Flight or any inquiries regarding Legacy Place, please contact Barb Muench or our Marketing Director, Allie Haller, at 618.939.4030. To find out more information on the Honor Flight, please visit www.landoflincolnhonorflight.org.

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