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'A Final Salute' To Veterans, Organizers

September 12, 2011, 7:08 PM by Kelly Bartnick

'A Final Salute' To Veterans, Organizers
SIOUX FALLS, SD - The greatest generation of KELOLAND has one more final salute.

For the past two years, KELOLAND-TV has chronicled the Honor Flight trips to the nation's capital to give World War II Veterans a look at their memorial on the National Mall.

The 12 flights that took more than a thousand World War II veterans to Washington, D.C. But that's nothing compare to the work put in by the people who literally took on a second, unpaid, full-time job to make everything happen.

There were countless men and women behind the front lines of the Honor Flight. But its success is partly due to three men who started it all.

"Larry called and said, 'Hey, I am willing to help.' And I said, 'What makes you think I'm interested?'" Dave Landry said.

Landry heard about the effort from a friend out-of-state. It was that same friend who put him in touch with Larry Rohrer and Rick Tupper.

"These people and the service and everybody at home that helped them saved the world for democracy. That's the thank you," Rohrer said.

"When you're talking about having tor raise $125,000 a flight, it takes a lot of $10 and $20 donations. But the people of South Dakota did it," Tupper said.

When the effort began, the men had no idea just how big it would be or the thousands of lives touched by it.

"Every time you would think this was it, or it can't get any better, it seems like the next stop there was something even more of a surprise," Landry said.

"You get there with 110 different people and all have a different story. And while they'll tell you, 'I really didn't do anything,' you sit back and listen. Then your jaw drops. You're just in awe," Tupper said.

Every man and woman who went on the trip will tell you they appreciated the efforts just as much as the men who put in the time to thank them.

"Be the last one off the plane. Be the one after the parade who helps sweep up. Come down the stairs after everyone's left for the party, and you'll appreciate it even more," Rohrer said.

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