A Galesburg woman has helped to send 26 veterans on the Honor Flight of the Quad Cities, and the daughter of a Vietnam vet had a chance to be recognized with a special gift for her hard work, but she thought that gift should go to someone else.
There's a little bit of uncertainty, in every surprise. Especially when that surprise involves putting a U.S. Navy vet into a plane for the first time since 1968.
"He thinks he's here to watch me go up when in fact he's going up," said Crystal Wilson.
The plane ride was supposed to be for Wilson, a reward for all she's done for veterans.
"I think that they give up a lot; they give up their lives, they put their lives on hold, their family members are put on hold in order to serve and protect our country," said Wilson.
Wilson and a friend, James Purl, started "Shave for the Brave" in March 2014.
"He challenged me to raise $1,000 to shave his beard off and he would donate that money to the Honor Flight of the Quad Cities," said Wilson.
That idea expanded into an entire event and with several more participants, along with scholarships and t-shirt sales, Shave for the Brave presented a check for more than $13,000 to the Honor Flight of The Quad Cities which sent 26 veterans to Washington D.C.
In return, the owner of Heritage Biplane, offered Wilson a ride in his Boeing Stearman while he was in Galesburg for the Stearman Fly-in.
"It's a chance just to give back and honor those that protect the freedoms that we can enjoy today," said Robert Preston.
Preston's plane just so happens to be a U.S. Navy plane, so Crystal wanted to give her ride to a Navy vet she knows well–her dad, Rodney Wilson.
"I'd actually like to give this flight to my father who is a Vietnam vet, he's done three tours in the Navy so it's kind of nice that he can go up in the Navy airplane," she said as she surprised him September 4, 2014.
The look of surprise on Mr. Wilson's face turned into a smile as he flew in the plane.
"I figured she was up to something, she's always up to something," he said.
A surprise, that will certainly be remembered.
"It's a once in a lifetime opportunity to ride in one of these," said Mr. Wilson.
Shave for the Brave is holding a Freedom Ride on Saturday, September 6, 2014 at Harley's Pub in Galesburg from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The cost for motorcyles is $15 per driver/$25 for two up, cars are $15 per driver/$10 per passenger. All the money raised will go to Honor Flight of the Quad Cities. For questions call 309-299-4948 or 309-371-8034.
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