Emotional Day For Local Veterans on Honor Flight in Washington, D.C.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (KVRR) — This was likely the most emotional day of the Honor Flight for Veterans in our nation’s capital.

About half of them served during the Korean War. Half during the Vietnam War. They both saw the memorials to the conflicts that they fought in, and lost comrades.

From the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, to the Iwo Jima Memorial, including surprise visits from North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven.”

We can never say thank you enough,” said Hoeven.

Congressman Kelly Armstrong said, “Freedom’s not free. It’s the memorial. It’s also the people here. It’s the people of North Dakota that served.”

The cost of freedom is on the minds of these honor flight veterans, many of them remembering those who paid the ultimate price.

“Five buddies that were from around my area,” said Darrel “Swede” Carlson.

He served more than three years in Vietnam aboard an infamous ship to the enemy, the U.S.S Edson.

“The grey ghost of the Vietnam coast.”

He found four names of friends he lost on the Vietnam memorial wall.

“This is where the monuments and memorials in Washington become more than that. The thousands of names here on the Vietnam Memorial Wall are real people, with real lives, who sacrificed those lives and leave lasting legacies. And the people on this honor flight knew these people and remember them and love them to this day,” said KVRR’s Adam Ladwig, on the trip with the veterans to tell their stories.

“I was there in the same area when he was killed,” said Carlson.

Others honors loved ones who couldn’t make it to the memorials. Karen Harles’ father served in Korea after the Korean War. He died last fall at 93 before he could go on an honor flight. She brought his flag, and a framed photo through the “Flags of our Heroes” program.

“It just means a lot to be able to bring a piece of him here because it was hard for him to get here because of his illnesses,” said Harles.

They feel these losses keenly, especially on a day like this. But it’s worth it, to make sure part of them is never lost.

A prayer was also given: “We ask for strength on this day. And we may share the memories and tell the stories that not may be forgotten.”

The Honor Flight wraps up Tuesday with a trip to the National Archives and to Ft. McHenry, the place that inspired Francis Scott Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner”.

The veterans are expected back in Fargo around 7 p.m. Tuesday night for a hero’s welcome at Hector International Airport.


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