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John Berge pushes his father, Lawrence Berge, during the Honor Flight of the Quad-Cities welcome home celebration on June 7 at the Quad Cities International Airport. Hy-Vee will sponsor an Honor Flight on Aug. 30.

Another 100 Vietnam veterans will join an Honor Flight of the Quad-Cities because of the support of the Quad-Cities and Clinton Hy-Vee stores. 

Hy-Vee officials presented a $50,000 donation to Honor Flight board members Wednesday to sponsor the stores' 10th local flight. The donation will help fund the Aug. 30 flight, which will be the Quad-City hub's 45th flight to date. 

"Every year, Hy-Vee's donated $50,000 for the last nine years. We're thrilled they've supported our flights out to Washington, D.C.," said Steve Garrington, the hub's director.

Since the partnership began, Hy-Vee has donated $500,000.

"This tenth flight has a special meaning to us because the Honor Flight hub is celebrating their 10th year of being in the Quad-Cities," said Debbie Geisler, Hy-Vee's Quad-Cities marketing director. 

Tim Mansfield, store director for Hy-Vee's Avenue of the Cities store in Moline, said its part of being a community-based business. "We love to support all our community, especially our veterans. We also employ a lot of veterans and veterans' families." 

Each Hy-Vee sponsored flight also involves store employees. Typically, one employee from each of the 12 Quad-Cities and Clinton Hy-Vee stores participates on a flight as an Honor Flight guardian, assisting the veterans through the day.

As part of Hy-Vee's sponsorship, the stores provide a pre-flight dinner for the Honor Flight veterans, guests and guardians. "It gives our Hy-Vee employees the chance to personally thank our local veterans for the sacrifices they made for our country," Geisler said. 

Thankful for major sponsors like Hy-Vee, Garrington said it also takes all the companies, individuals, service clubs, scout groups and communities across the region who donate to fund Honor Flight. "We never dreamed that it would take off like it did or more importantly, continue to be funded and supported by the community," he said.   

Four flights are planned for next year. A typical flight costs $90,000.

A public Welcome Home celebration will be held when the flight returns Aug. 30 to the Quad-City International Airport, Moline. Those events draw between 400 and 1,000 family, friends and other supporters. 

"We just received a thank you letter from a veteran who said he'd go to Vietnam all over again to get the welcome home he got on Honor Flight," Garrington added.   

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