148th Fighter Wing member visits World War II Memorial

148th Fighter Wing member Senior Master Sgt. Kyle A. Johnson and his father Lloyd O. Johnson read letters received during mail call on the flight to Washington D.C. Tuesday May 15, 2012.  The mail call was reminiscent of a time when the postal service was a Servicemember's only connection to their family and friends.  (National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Scott G. Herrington.)

148th Fighter Wing member Senior Master Sgt. Kyle A. Johnson and his father Lloyd O. Johnson read letters received during mail call on the flight to Washington D.C. Tuesday May 15, 2012. The mail call was reminiscent of a time when the postal service was a Servicemember's only connection to their family and friends. (National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Scott G. Herrington.)

148th Fighter Wing member Senior Master Sgt. Kyle A. Johnson poses for a photo with his father Lloyd O. Johnson Tuesday May 15, 2012 at the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C.  85 veterans from northern Minnesota and Wisconsin took part in the third honor flight out of Duluth, Minn. (National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Scott G. Herrington.)

148th Fighter Wing member Senior Master Sgt. Kyle A. Johnson poses for a photo with his father Lloyd O. Johnson Tuesday May 15, 2012 at the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C. 85 veterans from northern Minnesota and Wisconsin took part in the third honor flight out of Duluth, Minn. (National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Scott G. Herrington.)

148th Fighter Wing member Senior Master Sgt. Kyle A. Johnson and his father Lloyd O. Johnson tour the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C. Tuesday May 15, 2012.  The memorial has two distinct ends, each representing the two major theaters of battle during the war.  (National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Scott G. Herrington.)

148th Fighter Wing member Senior Master Sgt. Kyle A. Johnson and his father Lloyd O. Johnson tour the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C. Tuesday May 15, 2012. The memorial has two distinct ends, each representing the two major theaters of battle during the war. (National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Scott G. Herrington.)

Members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment perform the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier as World War II veterans from northern Minnesota and Wisconsin watch Tuesday May, 15, 2012.  The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was one of many stops for the veterans during their day trip to Washington D.C.  (National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Scott G. Herrington.)

Members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment perform the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier as World War II veterans from northern Minnesota and Wisconsin watch Tuesday May, 15, 2012. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was one of many stops for the veterans during their day trip to Washington D.C. (National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Scott G. Herrington.)

U.S Senator Amy Klobuchar greets 85 World War II veterans at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C. Tuesday May 15, 2012 during their day tour.  Senators Klobuchar and Franken expressed their gratitude to the veterans for their service and sacrifices.  (National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Scott G. Herrington.)

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar greets 85 World War II veterans at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C. Tuesday May 15, 2012 during their day tour. Senators Klobuchar and Franken expressed their gratitude to the veterans for their service and sacrifices. (National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Scott G. Herrington.)

DULUTH, Minn. -- On a day predicted to see rain and thunder, Lloyd O. Johnson and his son Kyle were dry as they visited the grounds of the World War II memorial; a memorial dedicated to the service of veterans like Lloyd Johnson--veterans that put their lives on the line for their country.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012, the Johnsons and 84 veterans from northern Minnesota and Wisconsin, accompanied by volunteer guardians, took in a full day of tours for the third northland honor flight out of Duluth International Airport.

Senior Master Sgt. Kyle A. Johnson, a 148th Fighter Wing Civil Engineering Mechanic and 23-year Air Force veteran, applied to the program on behalf of his father, Private 1st Class Lloyd O. Johnson (Ret.), in 2011, hoping they would be able to make the trip.

Starting with an 8 a.m. flight out of Duluth, Minn., the Johnsons flew to Reagan National Airport.

Halfway to D.C., the veterans were surprised with a mid-flight mail call, harking back to the days prior to email or text messaging.

"It was very good," said Lloyd Johnson. "I didn't know anything about it, and I had cards and letters from everybody."

The letters, sent from family members and friends, were collected by the guardians in the weeks prior to the flight.

"I really enjoyed the mail call--I think that's something so small that you don't even think about it, but back then, that was huge," said Kyle Johnson. "It's something we take for granted."

Upon arriving at Reagan National Airport, the veterans were greeted by Congressman Chip Cravaack along with members of the Air Force National Capital Region (AFNCR), and a large crowd of cheering supporters.

Four buses brought the group to the World War II memorial, which Lloyd Johnson saw for the first time.

"That memorial was not built when I was here," he said. "That's why I came."

Lloyd Johnson, a Marine Corps. World War II veteran, served from 1944 to 1946 in China and Guam.

"It's beautiful," said Lloyd Johnson of the memorial.

From the World War II memorial, the veterans were brought to the Women's Memorial, where they had lunch among the heroes of female service members.

A bus tour followed, as did a chance to witness the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier--a solemn event that commanded silence and respect.

The last stop before the return flight was the Lincoln Memorial, where U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken expressed their gratitude and shook hands with the veterans.

"Thank you for saving the world," said Franken.

The veterans returned to Duluth to the sound of cheers as they were greeted by the Patriot Guard, members of the Duluth Police Department and many other local organizations, family, and friends.

According to Kyle Johnson, the flight was something anyone that knows a veteran should get involved with.

"Even if you can't personally go, get them the form," said Kyle Johnson. "It's well worth it."

To find out how to become a guardian or send a veteran on an honor flight, visit www.honorflightnorthland.org and download an application.

To make a donation, call 218-409-6110 or mail them to Honor Flight Northland, P.O. Box 7229 Duluth, MN 55807.