Hundreds gather to thank a Minnesota hero |

Hundreds gather to thank a Minnesota hero

Updated: July 19, 2019 05:29 AM

Senior Master Sergeant (SMSgt.) Lanny White has served the USA for 36 years. On Thursday, hundreds of people and several generals gathered to thank him for his service and shower him with awards.

KSTP's Leah McLean once flew a mission with him, and Thursday, she was at his send-off in Bloomington.

"I wanted to thank Sgt. White, too," McLean said. "Ten years ago, photographer Joe Caffrey and I traveled with him and a crew of the Minnesota Air National Guard to Afghanistan. They got us there and back safely. Today we are saying thank you and celebrating a successful career."

The ceremony, the tradition, the support — all for SMSgt. White.

"It makes me feel awesome," White said.

After almost 37 years, he's retiring.

"It makes me feel good to be sent off with such a good crowd," he said.

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Earlier this week, he flew for the last time as a flight engineer with the 133rd Airlift Wing, exiting with flare and some fun.

On Thursday, friends, colleagues and multiple generals gathered at the Bloomington VFW to thank White for his service.

"Lanny was all about the unit and the people and how he could best serve. A guy with a huge heart, that's what he is," said Retired Brigadier General Greg A. Haase.

"Lanny was a great flight engineer and a great mentor to the younger engineers and all positions," added Retired Lieutenant Colonel Jeff Wong. "I was one of those younger people when I met Lanny. Lanny was my go-to guy. He always had the answer."

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS learned that firsthand back in 2008. We wanted to highlight the Minnesota men and women who serve our country. Lanny stood out.

In 2008, KSTP's Leah McLean was embedded with the 133rd Air Lift Wing, part of the Minnesota Air National Guard, in Afghanistan. Watch this video in which she describes the night mission process:

Lanny was active duty for a few years before joining the Minnesota Air National Guard about 30 years ago. He's worked full-time with the Guard and deployed on six missions since 9/11. He said people often stop to thank him for his service.

"So, I'd like to thank the public for all their support of the military, and especially me," said White.

Now in his retirement, SMSgt. White will spend some time taking care of his father, and he's going to get married.

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Leah McLean/KSTP

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