AFTON, Minn. - A decorated Marine combat pilot returned to a hero's welcome Tuesday night, but Bill Isaacson wasn't coming home from Iraq or Afghanistan. He served nearly 50 years ago in Vietnam.
Isaacson's friends planned the surprise upon his return from his winter retreat in Florida. They managed to keep the parade from Lakeland to Afton a secret. Isaacson first realized something was up when the van he was riding in pulled up to a fire truck and several dozen motorcycles waiting to escort him into town.
"The people never got to get together as a group when he came home and meet him at the airport or have a little celebration at home. He just came home and was out of the military," said Dick Glasgow, who helped plan the welcome.
Isaacson, 70, has battled Parkinson's disease for the past10 years, and he spends part of his time in a wheelchair now.
A couple hundred people waved flags and cheered on both sides of the highway as Isaacson's vehicle approached the Sail Away Café, where hewas presented with several proclamations.
"I can't believe it," Isaacsonsaid emotionally.
One speaker added, "It took us a while, but we got 'er done didn't we. We got you a parade."