Vietnam veteran selected for honor flight

Posted at 6:47 PM, Feb 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-01 19:47:57-05

Nebraska Vietnam veterans will make up the largest group flying to Washington D.C. to see their memorial on May 1st.

Patriotic Productions are putting together a final flight called “The Final Mission” which encompasses 650 Vietnam combat veterans, 4 planes, 15 busses among other items.

“My three tours were not exactly the better days of my life,” said Vietnam veteran Ken Walde.

Walde served three tours in Vietnam in the Navy and earned three bronze stars. He worked on an aircraft carrier but doesn’t like to talk about that experience.

“Don’t ask me what I had to do to get those bronze star medals. When I was in it was kill or be killed-I’m still here,” said Walde.

Walde’s been wanting to go on an honor flight to see the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall for a while now but on Wednesday he was surprised found out he’s going to be one of 650 veterans flying to DC.

“They are treated like a King, I’ve never been treated like a King,” said Walde.

This is the last honor flight from Patriotic Productions who have organized 11 flights from Nebraska to DC over the years and they are going out with a statement.

“It’s the largest group of Vietnam veterans from one state to ever visit the wall in DC,” said Bill Williams, owner of Patriotic Productions.

When veterans land in DC, they tour the memorials and when they arrive back in Nebraska they are welcomed with thousands of cheering

“Most of them receive no homecoming or if they did it was negative so this is such a positive experience with 5-6 thousand people cheering for them,” said Williams.

It’s this experience Walde said he hopes will erase the bad memories of Vietnam.

“Just to say I’m excited isn’t enough, I’m ready to go,” said Williams.  

This entire endeavor costs more than $600,000 and so far two planes are paid for. Organizers are continuing to raise money for the other two.