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Honor Flight Twin Cities Media

Here you will find images and videos from past Honor Flights to Washington, D.C.

Photo Essay by Max Haynes
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    When I got to the airport at 5 in the morning, it was already full of soldiers. But they were returning from Iraq, not WW2. They applauded the WW2 vets and we applauded them back. My first honor of the trip was the opportunity to shake each of these soldier's hands, and say thank you. If I'd had the time, I would have said. "Welcome home, soldier, thank you for your service."

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    When I got to the airport at 5 in the morning, it was already full of soldiers. But they were returning from Iraq, not WW2. They applauded the WW2 vets and we applauded them back. My first honor of the trip was the opportunity to shake each of these soldier's hands, and say thank you. If I'd had the time, I would have said. "Welcome home, soldier, thank you for your service."

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    The first order of business, after we got into the air, was to break out "V-mail" letters written by family members and friends.

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    Modeled after the letters sent from home during the war, these messages are part of the emotional journey that takes place for the Veterans during the trip.

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    On arrival at Dulles International in Virginia, two fire trucks gave the plane a ceremonial dousing.

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    While waiting for the ground crew to get their act together, there was time for a little father/son time on the flight deck. Captain Jay A. Biggs showed his father, Orville "Lee" Biggs, some doohicky or another. Lee was one of the Veterans making the flight, and his son acted as a Guardian for the day. This also meant we didn't have to worry about the plane leaving without us.

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    Leaving the Sun Country jet first, was Jerry Kyser, the Minnesota connection for the Honor Flight Network. It is through Jerry's and his wife Jana's hard work, that the Minnesota flight was organized and funds gathered, to make it possible for the Veterans to experience the trip cost-free.

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    When the Vets came off the plane, a whole crowd of folks were there to greet them and welcome them to DC.

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    The Vets were thrilled by the reception.

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    And, I believe, touched by the thoughtfulness of strangers, who chose to spend their Saturday morning at the airport, just to make us feel welcome.

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    But the Greeters, like the Guardians who paid to come on the flight, get something from this exchange as well.

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    Some were clearly pining for their own parent, and a chance to give a hug to someone of that generation.

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    These guys got merit badges, maybe?

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    We piled onto three big buses and headed into DC. The weather was beautiful, like a perfect October day. Our first stop was the Marine Corps War Memorial, built in 1954.

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    I wasn't the only one there taking pictures. Some of these folks were acting like kids again, thrilled to see the sights of our Capitol.

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    We saluted them and they saluted us back.

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    Their hats often told you what branch of the service they were in and what they did. All of the services were represented in the group.

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    This is Marshal Harris. He was one of the last to head back to the buses. He was on Iwo Jima, and witnessed the first flag raising. It was an honor to meet these men and women, who were witness to such history.

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    Across the field is Arlington National Cemetery. Here lie many fallen brothers and sisters who died in service to their country. This trip was to honor them as well.

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    The next stop was the Women In Military Service For America Memorial. It featured an exhibit on the WASPs (Women Air Force Service Pilots). Many brave young women gave their lives; testing and ferrying planes during the war.

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    Kathleen Woods found her name in the registry. Every woman who served in any capacity with the military is supposed to be registered here, so their service will not be forgotten.

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    At last we arrived at the National WW2 Memorial, along with a thousand or so other people! Having matching yellow and burgundy shirts was a good idea. Here, Lincoln Hudson moves through the crowd with the help of his Guardian, Mark Ritchie. Ritchie is a member of the Association for the US Army, he belongs to the Vessey Chapter, based at Fort Snelling. He also happens to be the Minnesota Secretary of State.

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    In 2004, 59 years after the war ended, this monument was finally opened. The Honor Flight Network's mission is to bring Veterans to Washington to be at this very spot and witness, first-hand, the gratitude of their Nation for their sacrifices and the sacrifices of their fallen comrades. And when the last WW2 Veteran is laid to rest, there will be flights of Korean War and Vietnam Conflict Veterans.

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    A Veteran sits beside the wall of 4048 golden stars that grace one side of the monument. Each star represents 100 Americans who died in the war. As is often said-- 'freedom is not free'.

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    Farther down the National Mall is the Korean War Veterans Memorial. Many paid their respects here, while others made the hike to the other side of the Mall to see the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

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    Anita Carroll, and her father, James Carroll, pose for a picture in front of the Korean War Memorial. This trip was as rewarding for the Guardians, as it was for the Veterans.

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    The youngest Veteran of WW2 has to be around 83. The oldest person on our flight was 96. I don't know how they did it, but they looked in better shape than most of the Guardians, when we finally got back on the plane about 10:30 East Coast time.

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    But the party wasn't over. When we arrived, there was a welcoming party. Several Color Guards greeted the Veterans first. A Vietnam Vet reaches out to shake the hand of a fellow Vietnam Vet. He was the lone exception on our flight of WW2 Vets, but his medical situation is precarious, and he wanted to see the Memorials before it's too hard to travel.

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    It was a great day to be an American.

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    Hundreds gathered to applaud and welcome back their loved ones from this wonderful journey that was filled with emotions of happiness, sadness, pride, and healing.

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    Welcome home, soldier, thank you for your service.

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April 2012 Honor Flight Gallery

October 2012 Honor Flight Gallery


Here is a larger version of the Honor Flight Twin Cities logo, which is suitable for printing.
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