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Honor Flight veterans return to another warm welcome in Fresno

A Central Valley Honor Flight veteran is greeted at Fresno Yosemite International Airport on Oct. 11, 2017, after returning from a three-day trip in Washington, D.C.
A Central Valley Honor Flight veteran is greeted at Fresno Yosemite International Airport on Oct. 11, 2017, after returning from a three-day trip in Washington, D.C. cyang@fresnobee.com

Another group of central San Joaquin Valley veterans returned to a hero’s welcome Wednesday night in Fresno, completing a three-day adventure to see monuments in their honor in the nation’s capital.

More than 150 people in all left Monday morning for Washington, D.C., on the 14th Central Valley Honor Flight.

On Tuesday, they visited the U.S. Marine and World War II memorials and those commemorating the Korean and Vietnam wars.

“The USA does a wonderful job at making monuments, showing you people you should remember,” said Leland “Lee” Virag, one of 68 veterans on the “memorable” trip.

The 90-year-old served two years in the U.S. Army. He took the Honor Flight with his son, John, 60.

“I’ll do anything I can do to be with my dad, and then to go see something new, it’s good to be with my dad when seeing it,” John Virag said.

Veterans saw the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier earlier Wednesday and the changing of the guard at Arlington National Cemetery before boarding the flight back to Fresno Yosemite International Airport.

Hundreds cheered the plane’s arrival about 6 p.m. Music was provided by the Clovis Community College band, while family and friends waved posters and flags.

As the elder Virag walked inside, the scene was “too much and overwhelming.”

“There’s all these people thanking you,” Leland Virag said.

“It’s hard not shedding any tears going through that,” the son said. “Seeing so many people supportive, that’s neat.”

Chueyee Yang: 559-441-6447, @chueyee15

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