Special moments, tributes from UP Honor Flight Mission XVII

WASHINGTON (WLUC) - The goal of each U.P. Honor Flight is to pay a small tribute to those who gave so much.

Daniel Farnsworth surprised his grandfather, Gary Sanford, when U.P. Honor Flight Mission XVII landed in Escanaba, Sept. 18, 2019. (WLUC image)

Each veteran takes something different away from their visit to Washington to visit their war memorials. On Mission XVII of the U.P. Honor Flight last week, there were plenty of surprises and tributes shared.

Pausing for taps at the Vietnam War Memorial allowed the 85 veterans on the flight to reflect on their full day in Washington.

The memorial had extra meaning for Jerry Irby of Marquette. He brought a special flag to the wall as a tribute to his late brother-in-law, who died earlier this year.

"For me, it's double emotional because of my brother-in-law passing away, and being able to be at this wall," said Irby. "He was never able to make it. He was never able to make it, but I made it for both of us. And to me, that serves my family well."

Among the many thank yous the veterans heard on this day was landing to applause at Reagan National Airport. The flight later returned to a huge crowd at the Delta County Airport.

For Gary Sanford, he had a surprise waiting for him -- his grandson who is stationed at Fort Hood.

"I never expected this at all, because he was supposed to be my escort but he was in service and he couldn't get out," said Sanford. "Then he shows up here, I pretty near fell over."

Daniel Farnsworth, who is serving with the 1st Cavalry Division, says his grandfather is an inspiration to his U.S. Army career.

"It makes me feel wonderful, because he laid the stepping stone when he served overseas to where I'm at now, and that's a big inspiration and push to where I'm at," said Farnsworth.

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