DULUTH, Minn. --
On May 14, 2011, approximately 100 World War II veterans left the Duluth International Airport at 6:30 am on a flight headed to Washington D.C. The veterans headed to Washington D.C. to visit the World War II Memorial that was built approximately seven years ago to honor their service and sacrifice.
The day included several surprises and they received the first one on the flight from Duluth to Washington D.C in the form of a mail call. The mail call consisted of letters from the veteran's family members and students from local area schools thanking the veterans for their service.
Upon arrival in Washington D.C., the veterans received a hero's welcome when two fire trucks both drenched and arched water over their plane. Once inside the airport, they were greeted by approximately 100 people to include Minnesota Congressman Chip Cravaack.
Besides the World War II Memorial they were able to either visit or drive past several other monuments and historical sites. They include the Iwo Jima, Korean, Lincoln, Vietnam, and Women Memorials, Washington Monument, Arlington Cemetery and the White House.
Master Sgt. Keith Johnson, 148th Fighter Wing, Duluth, Minn. had the honor of escorting World War II veteran and former Flying Tiger, Col. Wayne Johnson. "It was an awesome day," said Master Sgt. Johnson. "To be able to walk through the memorials and see it through their eyes was truly and unbelievable experience. I hope to have the privilege of doing this again someday."
After a very long day our veterans arrived back at Duluth International Airport at 10 pm that evening greeted by a large crowd. Family members, past and present military members, local Veterans of Foreign War Chapters, Patriot Guard and community members were on hand to show their appreciation for all that they have done for our country. "A significant welcome home for true hero's," is the way Master Sgt. Johnson put it.
Due to the generosity of local citizens and the planning by Honor Flight Northland, the veterans were able to fly to Washington D.C. free of charge. Honor Flight Northland is a non-profit organization created solely to honor veterans living in Northeastern Minnesota and Northwestern Wisconsin for all their sacrifices. Honor Flight Northland transports our heroes to Washington D.C. so they can visit and reflect on their memorials.
Due to high demand another flight is being planned for October. More information on the Honor Flight program can be found at www.honorflightnorthland.org