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Field of Honor, Salute to Veterans planned this weekend

The Field of Honor, which was held for the first time last year at Bay Point Park, returns at 6 p.m. Friday for the Memorial Day weekend. Residents who want to honor veterans and people currently serving in the military can dedicate flags in the Field of Honor. Last year there were more than 200 flags; the 2009 field will have up to 300. The flags will be lit from Friday evening through Memorial Day on the west end of Bay Point Park. File photo

Flag-waving, patriotic music and tributes to soldiers of the past and the present will put Old Glory in the spotlight throughout Memorial Day weekend.

Locally, observances kick off Friday night with the dedication of the Field of Honor at Bay Point Park. Upwards of 300 flags, each tagged with the name of an honored or memorialized veteran, will be displayed through Monday afternoon.

The public is encouraged to bring chairs and blankets.

Retired Army Gen. Dick Mallan will be master of ceremonies for the program; Dan Ludwig, past national commander of the American Legion, will give the address, and comments will be made Doreen Wells Hagen, a veteran from the Prairie Island Indian Community.

Musicians will include the Law Enforcement Choral and the Silvertones.

People who pay $25 to dedicate a flag will be escorted by military personnel, Civil Air Patrolmen and Civil War re-enactors as they place the flags on the field.

Volunteers will assist in guarding the field as it is illuminated around the clock, said Robin Wipperling of the Red Wing Area Senior Center, which sponsors the event as a fundraiser to support programs for veterans. Cost to dedicate a flag is $25; call (651) 267-3599.

@Sub heads:Salute to Veterans

@Normal: On Saturday, the focus will shift to the Red Wing Regional Airport, where the Eagle Valley Squadron of the Commemorative Air Force will present a Salute to Veterans from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. The airport is at W7245 Highway 35 in Bay City.

The squadron is in its second year of organizing the salute, which officials hope one day will include an air show. Admission is free, but donations will be collected.

Members of three model airplane clubs - Rochester, Owatonna and Rosemount - will demonstrate their miniature aircraft starting around 10 am. A car show will run from noon until around 6 p.m.; people are invited to come out in their vintage vehicles.

Spokesman Kent Smith said the group has invited groups with restored World War II military vehicles, too, and are expecting a Humvee.

Visiting aircraft will include four T-6 Texas trainers, a Cessna 172 trainer that was used by the U.S. AIr Force in more recent years, and a WWII Stinson L-5 spotter plane from South St.Paul. Vietname Veterans Post 331 of rural Ellsworth will bring its Huey helicopter. Other aircraft also may visit.

Living history presentations will start at noon in the big hangar with National Eagle Center officials and a bald eagle.

At 2 p.m., Robert Stolpa will talk about his military experiences, and Iraqi War veteran Rick Williams will speak at 3:30 p.m. The final speaker will be Bryan Moon of MIA Hunters, speaking on the search for missing World War II aircraft.

Cannon Falls National Guard unit representatives will talk about use of a decontamination unit during chemical warfare. The Red Cross Bloodmobile will collect blood donations in the early afternoon.

The day will conclude with a hangar dance from 6 to 10 p.m. featuring the music of the Midlife Cryslers. For more about the day, go online to www.eaglevalleysquadron.org.

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