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Hannibal Courier - Post - Hannibal, MO
  • Fourth grader enjoys escorting veterans after Honor Flights

  • “It makes me feel kinda happy,” said 9-year-old Beverly Hooper, who is preparing for the third time she will ride a Harley with her grandfather, Randy Wells, to escort military veterans home from Bowling Green, Mo., after an Honor Flight to Washington, D.C.
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  • “It makes me feel kinda happy,” said 9-year-old Beverly Hooper, who is preparing for the third time she will ride a Harley with her grandfather, Randy Wells, to escort military veterans home from Bowling Green, Mo., after an Honor Flight to Washington, D.C.
    A member of the Great River Honor Flight Escort Squadron, Wells is proud of Beverly for wanting to accompany him. The next Honor Flight will be on Thursday, May 22.
    “I used to see my grandpa drive by on a motorcycle and thought it was cool, how the bus (of veterans) would go by and they would start honking and people would wave flags,” Beverly said. “I wanted to go along. My grandpa has flags attached to the back of the motorcycle.”
    Wells said the Escort Squadron usually has between 150 and 200 motorcycles escorting the veterans home.
    Beverly explained the veterans may be tired when they arrive, but “when they get off and see all the people they get excited, and that is kinda cool to watch.”
    The veterans going on Honor Flights now are mostly Korean War veterans, she reported. “Every once in awhile you will see a World War II veteran, but it’s mostly Korean (War).”
    The daughter of Carrie and J.W. Hooper of Hannibal, Beverly is a fourth grader in Melinda Mixer’s class at Stowell Elementary School.
    Beverly’s dad is a former member of the 2175th Military Police Co.
    Her uncle, U.S. Army Sgt. Ryan W. Wells, has served two tours in Afghanistan and is now at Fort Lewis in Seattle, Wash.
    After each group arrives back in Bowling Green, Wells and his granddaughter present each veteran with a packet containing a card and a star cut from a retired American flag. Wells said the flags are usually donated by the American Legion in Hannibal.
    The card states: “I’m tattered, torn and worn, ready to be retired. Now I am a treasure given to you by a grateful nation, who honors you for your service and sacrifice. Because of you I was able to fly over the Land of the Free. Thank you for your service. I have been saved from the fire by the Great River Honor Flight Escort Squadron.”
    Wrote message
    for Escort Squadron
    Beverly has written a message for the Escort Squadron, which she will read to the group on May 22, Wells reported.
    Page 2 of 2 - When she shared it with her school class, she said, they were surprised that she wrote such a long letter, but “that’s all I do is write. All I do is read books and write stories.”
    This is her message:
    Dear Riders,
    “This is my third Honor Flight and I am super happy for it! If my Poppy had never told me about these I would not be coming to these things. It is so fun to be a part of this and to honor the brave men and women who fought for our country. I am speaking to you today because I love being a part of this and helping out the people who gave us freedom. Now if you are one of the new riders you might not know what an Honor Flight is so that’s what I am going to tell you. An Honor Flight is where retired veterans get on a plane and go to D.C. to see their memorial.
    “Then they fly back to the St. Louis airport. They then get on a bus to travel back home. We meet them here in Bowling Green. Then all the motorcycles take off after the bus. We ride to Hannibal or Quincy. This time we are riding to Hannibal. But first you have to ride to Bowling Green and stay at a Shell station for like two hours. Then the bus comes and we take off to escort the heroes home.”
    Sincerely,
    Beverly Hooper, Stowell School, fourth grade
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