World War II U.S. Navy veteran Bob DeGroot remembers the day well.

World War II U.S. Navy veteran Bob DeGroot remembers the day well.

"It was the most emotional day of my life," he said. "In fact, every time I think about it, I get teary-eyed."

It was the day he and his wife took an Honor Flight to visit the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.

On Saturday, June 9, four war veterans from the Marysville area, including DeGroot's friend, Clarence Henson, will take the trip, thanks to the class of 2016.

Bunsold Middle School eighth-grade students collected nearly $2,000 to finance the Honor Flight trip for Richard Kutan of the U.S. Navy, Harold Burns of the U.S. Army and Henson of the U.S. Army, all veterans of World War II, and Gil Laird of the U.S. Air Force, a Korean War veteran.

Honor Flight is a nonprofit organization that works to fly veterans to Washington, D.C., for a day to visit the WWII memorial. It has been expanded to include Korean War veterans.

The BMS students were introduced to the program during a Veterans Day assembly in November. They were inspired to conduct fundraisers to make local veterans' dreams come true.

The students invited DeGroot and several other local WWII veterans to a May 25 program to honor them. The eighth-grade band played, the choir sang and each veteran was presented with a certificate.

Bill Richards with Honor Flight helps coordinate the trips and travels with the veterans. He spoke to the students about their efforts.

"I applaud your school. The most meaningful part of this trip is that the young people said thank you to them," Richards said. "Thank you to the class of 2016. Wow, what a fantastic job."

Students also heard from Claudia Bartow, a veteran, Fairbanks school teacher and founder of the website: Bartow is joining the veterans June 9 and said she was impressed with the students' determination to help others.

"You've inspired me to talk to Fairbanks about doing something similar," she said.

Bunsold history teacher Bob Sements was instrumental in organizing the students' efforts.

"I think it is a good thing and good for the community," Sements said.

Bartow and Sements will go on the trip as guardians.

Andrew Blumenschein was one of the student presenters at the event and applauded his fellow students.

"We can all be proud," he said. "There was no contest, no rewards, just people giving in a caring way -- the Monarch way."

Recipients of the trip were chosen by Bunsold teachers who had received nominations from the students.

Kutan served as a radio operator. He received the Victory Star Medal for the United States' victory in the Pacific.

Burns fought in the Philippines and assisted in liberation efforts.

Henson served in the Army Corps of Engineers in Europe, where he advanced through France, Belgium and eventually Germany. He is a recipient of the Atlantic Theater Freedom ribbon and the Bronze and Good Conduct medals.

Information on Laird's service wasn't available, but he served in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War.

DeGroot said the memorial is not about heroics.

"It isn't that I did anything so special; it's just that these men were thought of," he said.

He said the work the students put in to honoring local veterans is impressive.

"This is remarkable. You see and read about all the problems we have with young people, but these are great kids and they care," he said. "They may not understand it, but they care."

The remaining Honor Flight dates are Aug. 25, Sept. 8, Sept. 29 and Oct. 10.

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