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Deserving of Honor: Veterans on Honor Flight return from Washington DC

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It was an emotional return to Portland Sunday night for the South Willamette Valley Honor Flight.

Service members lined up at the gate to greet them with bagpipes, salutes, and applause, thanking them for their service.

60 veterans visited places they’ve never been to with many experiencing emotions they've never felt before.

We joined the group for the weekend trip to Washington, D.C.

Who is worthy of being honored?

“I guess honor was never really something I thought about or something I really missed in my life,” said Navy veteran Dan Starner.

Who deserves to be recognized?

“I served because I wanted to, and I don’t think I needed to be recognized for that,” said Air Force veteran Wayne Willcock.

60 vets who just did their job, serving their country.

“Nobody’s ever done that for me, and I got kind of emotional,” Starner added.

Over and over, we heard from the veterans they didn’t feel worthy of this honor.

“I thought that there would always be somebody that would be more worthy of their trip than I,” said Army veteran Jim Brown.

“I spent a lot of time in the Reserves, so I didn’t really experience some of the things that other guys did as far as sacrifice,” Starner said.

That humility is a unique trait among veterans.

“I think many times, because we haven’t been honored like we have, it’s probably a humbling experience,” Starner added.

It may be hard for non-veterans to understand.

But on the Honor Flight, it’s a group that does.

Added Starner: “In the service, you’re a team, and to see that camaraderie with all of us together, being here, that was special because these guys served.”

“I didn’t know them, but I knew they had been through the same things that I had, and just listening, everybody had a story,” said Air Force veteran Jon Bendixen.

Some dark and tragic, some funny and uplifting - stories of redemption and rebirth.

And some stories that had never been told - stories of honor, worthy stories of service.

They all played their part. They all have their story.

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They all deserve the honor.

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