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Pawlenty to visit Luverne

File Photo: Gov. Tim Pawlenty announces Tuesday that he wants first-degree sex offender sentences to more than double, to 25 years. Legislators gave his idea a mixed reaction. (Don Davis/State Capitol Bureau)

LUVERNE -- The Southwest Minnesota Honor Flight executive committee received confirmation Tuesday that Gov. Tim Pawlenty will accompany his wife, Mary, to the pre-flight banquet of the inaugural Honor Flight April 29 in Luverne.

Jane Wildung Lanphere, committee member, said Pawlenty's secretary had called this week to ask if the governor could also attend the ceremony. Initially, his wife was invited to speak at the event because of her special connection with a group of Luverne World War II veterans, having met with some of them at the governor's mansion several years ago.

The Pawlentys, along with Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, will welcome Honor Flight participants and their guests at the invitation-only banquet. There are 110 veterans taking part in the flight, slated for April 30-May 1.

The April 29 program will include a dinner, performance of "The Greatest Generation" by Lonny Carpenter, a service of appreciation by the Minnesota National Guard, several musical selections and a presentation of gifts for the heroes.

Southwest Minnesota Honor Flight will depart Sioux Falls at 7:30 a.m. April 30, with arrival in Washington, D.C., shortly after noon. The remainder of the day will include visits to the Air Force Memorial, Iwo Jima Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery. The veterans will be the guests of honor at a Hero's Banquet that evening.

On Saturday, the Southwest Minnesota Honor Flight group will visit the World War II, Korean, Lincoln, Vietnam and FDR memorials. A driving tour is also planned, including a pass by the U.S. Capitol, White House, J. Edgar Hoover FBI Headquarters and several other buildings and monuments.

Their final stop will be at the Navy Memorial before travelling back to Dulles International for an 8 p.m. flight home.

A Heroes Arrival is planned at 10:30 p.m. May 1 in Luverne.

Fundraising is already in progress for a second Southwest Minnesota Honor Flight, which is hoped to take place sometime this fall.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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