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Omaha hosts 300+ vets at 38th Nebraska Vietnam Veterans Reunion: 'It’s just like therapy to us'

Posted at 8:31 PM, Aug 15, 2023

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — It’s a yearly tradition now in its 38th year — the Nebraska Vietnam Veterans Reunion.

“We are the best-kept secret in the state,” said Co-Chair Ron Haase. “It’s one of the only ones in the nation that we know of.”

The secret, though, is getting out.

“The crowd seems like it’s getting bigger and bigger every year,” said Air Force Veteran Tom Leet, who has been attending for about 35 years.

“We have registered 320 people and expect anywhere from 30-40 walk-ins,” Haase added. “That includes a lot of first-timers.”

The reunion moves locations in the Cornhusker State each year. A committee of Vietnam vets from the host town are in charge of the preparations. This year, it was Omaha’s turn.

Despite the reunion's name, it’s not limited to only Nebraskans.

In fact, veterans from 17 different states made their way to the heartland this year.

“One from California, one from Florida, Ohio, Wyoming, of course, all the surrounding states here,” said Haase.

The four-day weekend starts with an opening ceremony and dinner. The days to follow are filled with educational workshops and entertainment.

However, it’s what they all went through together that really continues to reunite the American heroes.

“We’ve got a lot in common to talk about, you know, we were on the same type of guns over there and share similar experiences,” Army Veterans Lon Jochuns and Steve Sueper shared.

Purcell Crowder said, “It's a mutual feeling, it’s a camaraderie type thing.”

“It’s just like therapy to us,” Sammy Gay added.

Crowder and Gay served in the same unit in Vietnam, along with North Platte native Robert Cross.

Cross has been attending the reunion since 1997. During one of the reunions, he was able to get help in tracking down Crowder, who lives in Maryland, and Gay who lives in Georgia.

Now the trio makes it a yearly tradition.

“You know, you can talk to people about it, but nobody knows unless you really lived it, and we did,” said Crowder.

“And it’s great because everyone who was in country – it's like you have your own language. So, we all kind of speak the same language,” Cross added on. “But since these guys have been coming it’s just over the top. It’s so much better.”

If you are a Vietnam veteran and want to learn more about the Nebraska Vietnam Veterans Reunion, click here.

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