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Vietnam veteran given surprise welcome-home parade in Minnesota

AFTON, Minn., May 8 (UPI) — A Minnesota man who flew more than 150 combat missions in the Vietnam War was surprised with a belated welcome-home parade from his friends and neighbors.

The parade was held Tuesday after William Isaacson, 70, flew home to Afton, Minn., from Florida, where he now spends the winter, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported. When Isaacson saw the crowd gathered in Lakeland, a town of about 1,800 people about 17 miles east of St. Paul, he did not realize at first he was the person being honored.

Isaacson, who served in the Marines, said his welcome in 1966 was far more modest: “My brother Bob — that was it.”

This time, a firetruck led the way as motorcycles escorted Isaacson, a friend who had accompanied him from Florida, and his wife, Chrysmarie, who met them at the airport after driving up two weeks ago.

People waving American flags lined the route home, and another crowd was gathered in Afton for a celebration.

Isaacson earned a Silver Star and other commendations during his combat tour.

Jim Stanton, who flew up from Florida with Isaacson, said his friend began crying when he realized he was being honored.

“He said, ‘I can’t believe this,’ ” Stanton said. “I said, ‘Bill, you haven’t seen nothing yet.’ He’s such a humble man.”

Asia Bednar, a high school teacher and member of the Lakeland City Council, was accompanied by her two young sons.

“I’m a teacher, and any chance I have to instill in my kids the American liberties and American freedoms that we have — even at this young age — I want to take advantage of that,” she said. “This is just exciting to me. I want to support our veterans and all that they do.”

Copyright 2013 United Press International, Inc. (UPI).

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