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Amy Dalrymple, Forum News Service, Published May 06 2011

Patriot Guard greets Honor Flight veterans in Bismarck before today's flight to D.C. with photo gallery

BISMARCK – Members of the North Dakota Patriot Guard greeted about 125 World War II veterans today before they departed on the Honor Flight to Washington, D.C.

The veterans will visit the World War II memorial on Saturday as part of the 11th Honor Flight to leave from North Dakota.

Nancy Halvorson of McIntosh, S.D., gave each veteran a pin as they arrived at the airport.

“They’re part of the greatest generation. If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t enjoy the freedoms that we have,” Halvorson said. “We owe a lot to these guys.”

Rick Clayburgh, who escorted his father, Ben Clayburgh of Grand Forks, said they were impressed to see the support at the airport.

“I think it’s very meaningful for the veterans,” Rick Clayburgh said. “It gives you kind of a chill.”

Gov. Jack Dalrymple and his wife, Betsy, and Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, adjutant general of the North Dakota National Guard, were among the supporters.

The Dalrymples shook the hands of the veterans while greeting them before the departing flight.

"The things they did and expect no credit is unbelievable," Jack Dalrymple said. "They're the greatest folks you'd ever want to meet."

The veterans will visit the Lincoln, Vietnam War and Korean War memorials today and go on a driving tour of Washington. They will be honored at a banquet tonight.

Vernon Erickson, a World War II veteran from Minot, said he’s looking forward to seeing the sights.

“I’ve been waiting for it,” Erickson said.

For more on the Honor Flight, visit www.inforum.com and read Saturday’s Forum.