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Washington D.C. gives warm welcome to Alaska veterans

By Joe Vigil 6:28 AM May 8, 2014

After spending days traveling to Washington D.C., a group of Alaska veterans with the 2014 Honor Flight is finally ready to begin touring war memorials in the nation’s capital.

David Leavitt Sr., an 85-year-old World War II veteran from Barrow, said he can’t wait to see his memorial. He had no idea what he was about to see and hear when he arrived in Washington Wednesday.

Many veterans were stunned by the reception they received just after they stepped off the plane.

A large crowd of people in the terminal — complete strangers — roared when the honor flight vets walked into the terminal. Other passengers waiting for planes waved American flags, shook hands with veterans and hugged them. A young boy started shaking hands with Alaska veterans who are representing World War II, as well as the Korean and Vietnam wars.

Alaska World War II veteran Frank Flavin said he felt proud when the group was greeted by a cheering crowd at the airport.

“For them to cheer us on like that, it was really wonderful to feel that and hear it,” Flavin said.

Fairbanks World War II veteran Robert Johnston, who conducted stealth swimming operations in the South Pacific, became emotional when he heard the large crowd cheer.

“I think this is so great. This is the first time since I got out of the service in the 40s that I’ve ever had anything like this. This is really great. Really great,” Johnston said.

Watch for more KTVA coverage of the Honor Flight tour Thursday at 6 and 10 p.m.

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