On the morning of Nov. 28, Max Morrison met William Konicek for coffee. The two Traer men planned to fly Konicek's plane, a 1946 Taylorcraft BC-12D, over Gladbrook to get an aerial view of its windmills.
Only a few hours later, disaster would strike.
Just before 11 a.m., Konicek's plane struck power lines at an unimproved airstrip near 245th Street and R Avenue in Clutier, according a to National Traffic Safety Bureau preliminary report released Friday.
The crash killed Konicek. The Tama County Medical Examiner's Officer declared him dead at the scene. He was 69.
Paramedics air-lifted Morrison to the University of Iowa Hospitals in Iowa City after the fire burned the majority of his body. Morrison, 63, remains in the hospital's burn unit. Hospital staff were unable to provide the T-R information on Morrison's condition Friday afternoon.
At its Thursday meeting, American Legion Post 46 decided to start a fundraiser to help Morrison's family deal with the lofty medical bills they face.
The post commander, Dennis Richards, said when police released the crash victims' names, his heart sank. Morrison is a Vice Commander with the Third District American Legion.
"We take care of our vets any way we can," he said.
Richards said he and others are trying to rally area posts to give a portion of their budget. Since the size of each post varies, some posts give more than others do.
But every little bit helps, said Max's wife Sue.
"Just with food and driving and parking - that stuff adds up pretty fast," she said.
Since the crash, Sue has been at the hospital by her husband's side non-stop. She has left a few times to eat but more or less lives in a small room just off the burn unit.
Monday marked 29 years since Sue and Max said "I do."
Morrison is conscious now, his wife said. He has had two surgeries, and many more will follow. Morrison's grown children and his wife have leaned on one another throughout this tough time.
"We are bonding together really good," Sue said.
Before paramedics removed Morrison from the crash scene, he told the deputy he tried his best to pull Konicek from the fiery wreckage, said Tama County Sheriff Dennis Kucera.
The strip had recently erected the power lines. Although the National Traffic Safety Bureau report shows that Williams had landed at the strip before, it is unknown whether he was aware that the lines were no longer buried.
She remembers when one of her neighbors called her with the news.
"My first thought was that it was some sort of sick joke," she recalls. "I just wanted to get to Max."
Richards said the legion has yet to set an official goal for how much money it wants to raise, but he would like to collect $10,000. The American Legion is the nation's largest service organization handling veterans' affairs.
This fundraiser, Richards said, is about honoring the bond all veterans share. It's about living up the Legion's motto: veterans taking care of veterans.
Anyone looking to donate to the fund can do so by sending their support to Farmers Bank c/o Max Morrison Benefits Account; 611 Second St., PO Box 435, Traer, Iowa, 50675.