Big Sky Honor Flight: Father's Day - | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

Big Sky Honor Flight: Father's Day

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On the morning of Father's Day, 81 World War Two veterans boarded a plane in Billings for the fifth Big Sky Honor Flight. Several of the vets were accompanied on the trip by one of their children. The Pedersens were one of those pairs.

"I can't think of any place I'd rather be," said Bill Pedersen as he stood by his father at the Lincoln Memorial. "This is such a special trip, and to be here on Father's Day is indescribable." Jack Pedersen of Harlowton was a Navy man in the Pacific during the war. Having his son at this side for the trip made it a Father's Day like no other for the 92-year-old. "It's enjoyable, just wonderful," he exclaimed.

Leo Heyd, at 87-year-old army vet from Billings, met up with his son on the trip. Lawrence drove to Washington from Richmond, Virginia to accompany his dad. "Well, we haven't had a Father's Day together in 25 years or longer since he's been in the east part of the country, so that was really special, I thought," said the elder Heyd as the two started to explore the World War Two Memorial.

Many of the vets, like two-time Bronze Star winner Ted Burton of Missoula had a Father's Day surprise waiting for them at the Billings Logan Airport. Burton opened the manila envelope and found a bundle of letters. "There were greetings, Father's Day greeting and other praise for my service from my wife, four children, and my grandchildren. It really tore me up," he said. "They were very fine letters, and I hope I really, truly deserve what they had to say."

On Sunday morning, about three thousand roses had been placed at the Vietnam Memorial. Many had personal notes for fathers who were killed or still missing from that war. They served as a reminder that this trip, and the chance to share the letters from home, were precious gifts, and not just for the fathers.

"It's been awesome, and it's such a nice thing for dad to come all the way out here to the east coast and to see the memorial and get to spend some time together," said Lawrence Heyd. "To be here with my dad is just incredible," said the younger Pedersen.