Honor Flight to Washington, D.C., was one surprise after another - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Honor Flight to Washington, D.C., was one surprise after another

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Surprise:  Senator Bob Dole there to say hello Surprise: Senator Bob Dole there to say hello
The Dumdei brothers at the Minnesota WWII Monument The Dumdei brothers at the Minnesota WWII Monument

ROCHESTER/WASHINGTON, D.C. (KTTC) -- They had waited for a long time for Saturday, April 30, to arrive. But the World War II veterans who flew from Rochester to Washington, D.C. on the latest Honor Flight couldn't possibly have been ready for what happened.

"The monument is beautiful, but universally what matters most is to be greeted by total strangers, thanking them for serving our country," said Honor Flight escort Joseph Connell of Stewartville. "Little kids asking them questions about what happened, people giving them hugs and saying thanks. All these people kept coming up to them. They were flabbergasted, in awe."

In addition to the 113 veterans on this eighth Honor Flight from Rochester, there were 61 volunteers serving as escorts and helpers.

Connell, a former IBMer who served in the U.S. Air Force, had been struck by something else unique on this particular Honor Flight -- three brothers were on this journey, from Alexandria, Mankato and Waseca. The Dumdei brothers all served in WWII, Everette in the Army, Eugene in the Navy, and Marvin in the Merchant Marines.  Originally from Janesville, they were in great spirits traveling together.

Armed with a small KTTC camera, Connell and others shot some scenes of the journey on April 30th. One remarkable scene was at the World War Two Memorial, when Senator Bob Dole appeared and spent a few moments with the Dumdei brothers from Minnesota.

"The senator often tries to meet the groups in on an Honor Flight," said Connell.

There were many surprises along the way for this Rochester group, but one other they'll never forget was at the Main Terminal of Rochester International Airport when they arrived "home" from the nation's capital. Hundreds of people had gathered with flags and signs to cheer their arrival, one by one, as they came in for one last rousing "thank you."

It's our pleasure to invite you to check out the videos that accompany this short story; one is KTTC reporter Heidi Wigdahl's feature report on the Dumdei brothers, you'll also find the raw video scenes from the WWII Monument itself, and a couple of "live" reports from Rochester International from our 10 p.m. newscast on April 30th.

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