Frank Josephson salutes.
By Byron Higgin, Mascot Publisher
“Today is for you.”
“The next two days are for you. Enjoy the ride.”
Mike Kuhle, of Southwest Minnesota Honor Flights, told World War II veterans gathered in Luverne for a send-off banquet, “Thank You Veterans, for all you do.”
The next day 162 people boarded a flight for Washington, DC to tour monuments, the national cemetery and to bring their service to America full circle.
“Thank You For America” the song reiterated through the call, finalizing with “You did what you were called to do.”
Minneota’s Frank Josephson, along with 162 others ready to take the flight, were in high anticipation of what they were about to see.
“I am excited to do this,” said Josephson. It was his first trip to Washington and he was “feeling patriotic.”
His friend Gene Nordquist (below) also felt the patriotism as a tear came to his eye during the ceremony.
Upon their return, Nordquist said, “Anybody who has the opportunity to go and doesn’t — is missing the boat.”
It was a once-in-a-life-time opportunity for both men — and both were looking forward to it.
Friday morning, bright and early, the Honor Flight staff had the veterans heading for Sioux Falls, then Dulles Airport in Washington, and the same day to the monuments.
One of the highlights was the “shooting of water” at the airplane as it arrived as a special salute to the World War Two vets. “Those are only done for special VIP’s coming into the country,” said Kuhle.
Because of a large rally by the AFL-CIO on the steps of the capitol, the group was whisked to the World War II Memorial. They also saw the Lincoln, Korean and Vietnam memorials on Friday.
A uniformed color guard recognized the veterans at a banquet that evening.
And Saturday they saw the Iwo Jima (Marine) memorial, National Monument with the changing of the guard and finally, the national cemetery.
“When we left, 15 women lined up and each one gave us a hug and a sincere thank you,” Nordquist said.
“It was a fantastic two days,” said Nordquist.
He talked about a health problem Josephson had and said, “They were right there and stayed with him.”
Josephson added, “They even called me Sunday to see how I was doing.”
He added, “I would have hated to have heard about it and not been there.”
They enjoyed, “The changing of the guard,” and Nordquist said, “We saw Audie Murphy’s (hero and actor) grave.
The two were impressed because, “A bunch of Cub Scouts saluted and each one had to shake our hand. They seemed really thrilled,” said Josephson.