Published on October 22, 2019

One More Adventure

Honor Flight of the Quad Cities

Earl Burklund jumped into North Korea under fire.

He served as a police officer in Moline. After his police career, he was a union official who met national political leaders, including vice president Hubert Humphrey.

He was married for 59 years before Marjorie passed.

Just last March he was fortunate to be at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Iowa City for a checkup when he went into cardiac arrest.  Anywhere but in a hospital that day and he likely would have died.

“I was resurrected,’’ Burklund said of the health scare. “They brought me back. I told them at the VA not to do it again. You’ve got to be able to have some fun with things.’’

Maybe he survived war and a potentially fatal heart event for a reason. He has seen the Korean War Memorial in Washington, D.C., and in fact, he marched in a 1995 parade of Korean War veterans when the memorial opened. But he hasn’t seen the World War II memorial, which opened in 2004.

Burklund, who has had a number of adventures and experiences in his life, has one more scheduled. He’ll be on the 50th Honor Flight from the Quad Cities leaving Oct. 31.

“I wasn’t that excited at first because I have been to Washington quite a few times and I thought other guys should go ahead of me. I thought I didn’t have anyone to go with either,’’ the 89-year-old explained.

“I told him, ‘I’ll take you,’’ said Maggie Conner, his regular home hospice nurse with Genesis Visiting Nurses. “It will be an honor to go with all these veterans.’’

“Now I’m getting excited about going,’’ Burklund said.

The Genesis Foundation heard about Burklund. The foundation is paying for Conner to make the trip as Burklund’s guardian.

Burklund said he went to Japan in 1948 with the 11th Airborne. He had jump training and made two combat jumps. His job on the ground was with a mortar team.

“The North Koreans were shooting at us. The funny thing was I had always been afraid of heights. But we jumped at about 1,200 feet and that didn’t bother me,’’ Burklund said.

From Korea, he corresponded with a “cute girl” from the neighborhood in Moline. They barely knew each other when he was deployed.

“I was actually wanting to date her older sister but she wasn’t interested in me,’’ Burklund recalled. “Then I saw her little sister. ‘Who is the cute girl?’ I said to my friend. I got her address and started writing when I was in the Army.’’

The cute little sister became Burklund’s wife of 59 years. They had four children.

About Honor Flight

In 2008, Honor Flight of the Quad Cities (HFQC) was formed as part of a national network.  The purpose of HFQC is to fly America's veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit the memorials dedicated to honoring their sacrifices. Top priority is given to WWII and Korean War Era Veterans, or any veterans with a terminal illness. The intention is to honor local and regional heroes who were selfless in their military duty with a free trip to visit their memorials.

About Genesis Hospice

Genesis Hospice provides experienced, high quality care so that your loved one can remain as independent and comfortable as possible. Genesis Hospice provides medical care in addition to providing emotional and spiritual support.

Care is provided in your own home by a multi-disciplinary team or in the beautiful Clarissa C. Cook Hospice House in Bettendorf.

For more information about Genesis Hospice, call 563-421-5400 or 844-5-CARING.
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