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Metro area veterans share their stories before Honor Guard Flight

Posted at 10:25 PM, Oct 03, 2022

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (KMTV) — There are some things in life you never forget.

“I went in 1966 right after graduation in high school. I enlisted, I was 17 and my mom had to sign the paperwork to let me go in,” said Vietnam War veteran Ed Kerns.

The war in Vietnam was escalating quickly in 1966.

Kerns was originally assigned to a supply company away from the action but that changed after he saw many of his friends shipped overseas.

“I went to the CO and told him, put me on the next boat to Vietnam. He looked at me like I was crazy,” joked Kerns.

Kerns would eventually end up on Hill 861 outside of Khe Sanh where he and his team were attacked by North Vietnamese forces.

Kerns survived the fierce fighting but he said it wouldn’t have been possible without the sacrifices of the men fighting beside him.

“They covered for me. I didn’t find out until after the fight was over with, that was around five in the morning, that I was the only one left,” said Kerns.

Stories like Kerns are becoming less common as the years pass by and veterans of the conflict pass away. But some organizations are working to make sure those who served are recognized and given an opportunity to visit the monuments dedicated to their service.

“We are losing this generation, we are losing their stories and losing their experiences but this is a special way to honor their service and sacrifices to give them an opportunity to see it,” said Iowa Lt Governor Adam Gregg.

Lt Governor Gregg was on hand Monday night for a send-off celebration to celebrate the latest Honor Flight, a program that brings veterans to with the dozens of monuments to their service in Washington DC.

For Kerns, the flight is more than just a chance to have his service recognized.

He says it's an opportunity to reconnect with the men who gave their lives to save him and show them how grateful he is for their sacrifice.

“I need to look up five guys on the wall and let them know that they aren’t forgotten,” said Kerns.

The Honor Flight for Kearns and his fellow veterans will depart on Tuesday morning, and spend the next 3 days touring the nation's Capitol and its monuments dedicated to his and other veterans' service.

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