Vietnam veterans reflect on honor flight

WASHINGTON D.C. (KMTV) - Getting the 'welcome back' celebration they never received decades ago, on Monday more than 650 Nebraska Vietnam veterans boarded four planes headed to Washington D.C.

The veterans stopped at the memorial named after the war they fought in.

The wakeup call, 2 a.m. as hundreds of veterans line up in rows to board the busses to Epply airfield on four separate flights to D.C.

“I'm just as excited as I can be,” said veteran Bill Franzen.

This is the largest honor flight from one state ever to visit the Vietnam War Memorial wall, ousting its own record last year.

Stops in D.C. included taking group photos on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Korean War Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery and the iconic Iwo Jima statue.

“It's something different, I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time,” said veteran Gordon Hopp.

The highlight of the trip, visiting the Vietnam War Memorial wall looking at thousands of names etched in stone who died in battle.

“You feel the old memories come up some are good memories some are bad memories-you know when you lose friends we're looking for them,” said Dallan Schlautman.

“One of my corporals that i sent out on a mission and didn't make it out alive,” said Marine veteran Darrel Thorin.

Awaiting the arrival of the veterans were thousands of family members, fellow military members and community members cheering on the veterans for a true ‘Welcome Home’ celebration.

“It's like you've had cancer for 45 years and then all at once you don't have it. How do you react to that?” said veteran Don Swanson.

“Best day anybody could ever have I could think,” said veteran Brad Martindale.

 

Among these veterans: 55 are purple heart recipients; 242 have been diagnosed with agent orange-creating many health issues-including cancer.

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