A link has been posted to your Facebook feed.
Interested in this topic? You may also want to view these photo galleries:
OSHKOSH - Standing in front of the dark, reflective sheen of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, Navy veteran Joel Walker knew exactly whose name he was looking for.
George D. MacDonald.
MacDonald was a childhood friend of Walker; the two grew up together in Evanston, Illinois. MacDonald was a captain in the Air Force during the war.
Walker had been to the wall before — with the Veterans of Foreign Wars as a past state commander for Wisconsin. He also had a general idea of where MacDonald’s name was etched into the shiny black granite. But he couldn’t find it.
He asked a park ranger, who pointed it out. He walked up to it, lost in his thoughts and the moment. MacDonald’s body was never recovered, Walker said. He is believed to have been killed in action.
“Today, coming back, I think about all the things that transpired over so many years and the things that my friend missed,” Walker said.
A woman walked past Walker, stopped and turned back toward him.
“She saw that I was in some kind of other place, and she came back and put her arm around me, and she said, ‘You look like you need a hug,’” Walker said. “And I said thank you.”
There was “an aura” at that memorial, Walker said. The first time he visited, decades ago with the VFW, he couldn’t bring himself to walk in. Another past state commander took his arm and walked in with him.
It was a feeling he still had when he arrived at the memorial in Washington as part of a daylong trip for Wisconsin veterans: the Yellow Ribbon Honor Flight. Walker and many other Vietnam veterans struggled to put into words the emotion they felt on their trip.
Families and friends, other veterans, members of the armed forces and the Civil Air Patrol and EAA AirVenture attendees lined the veterans’ path Friday evening from the American Airlines plane they flew on into Boeing Plaza at Wittman Regional Airport.
Some, too emotional to speak, simply stood with tears welling in their eyes. Others thought back to how things had changed since they came home years ago from overseas. Things have changed greatly, they said.
“I was overwhelmed here. It’s a bigger thing than I realized,” said Lee Rihm, who served in the Army from 1965 to 1966.
He choked up.
“It’s the camaraderie that we are united,” Rihm said. “We are together as a group (of Vietnam veterans) because we weren’t treated very well. When I was discharged from the Army, I did not leave the fort with my uniform on. I put on civilian clothes. I did not want anyone to know.”
Gratitude is a major theme on the Yellow Ribbon Honor Flight, which is coordinated through the EAA, Old Glory Honor Flight and American Airlines. Friday marked the sixth year the Yellow Ribbon Honor Flight has flown out of AirVenture. It was Old Glory’s 46th honor flight since the Appleton-based organization started in 2009.
Lt. Gen. Marianne Miller, chief of the Air Force Reserve in Washington and commander of Air Force Reserve Command at Robbins Air Force Base in Georgia, addressed the veterans upon their return to Oshkosh. She asked the crowd to join her in telling the veterans “we love you.”
“The sound of freedom is that ‘we love you,’” Miller said as many wiped away tears.
The gratitude went both ways — the veterans often to give standing ovations to the people who made their daylong trip to the nation’s capital possible, including the American Airlines crew, the honor flight coordinators and EAA volunteers.
Carolyn Page, who served with the Army from 1966 to 1969, said the trip was “fabulous.”
“The wall is just breathtaking,” Page said. “To know that so many sacrificed their lives for us. I’m just thankful that I had the opportunity to be with my fellow comrades and to come back to such a great welcome.”
In Washington, they had an escort and “the whole nine yards,” said Clarence Mueller who was in Vietnam from Nov. 1-25, 1965. As he stood in Boeing Plaza, surrounded by his fellow veterans, supporters and military planes, a viper ripping through the air, he had only one word to describe how he felt.
- ESPN documentary shows Bleier's emotional return to Vietnam
- Flight 370: A Hard Lesson on Closure
- PTSD Epidemic- Personal Look
- Your No-Show Congress
- The Hero Code
- The best movies to watch this Independence Day weekend
- The Hidden Cost of Heroism
- Who Killed Chris Kyle?
- Invisible Soldiers
- Abandoned on the Home Front
- From 'The Halls of Montezuma' to the world: 21 famous Marines
- My Above-Average Stroke
- Tropic Thunder joins 12 other great movies now streaming online
- Who Gon' Check the Las Vegas Aces?
- Our Oceans are Turning Into Plastic . . . Are We?
- NHL Draft results 2019: Final grades, analysis for all 31 teams
- A techie's Christmas carol
- Coming Back Strong
- Around the World in 28 Periods
- Listen to Kanell & Bell
Vietnam veterans reflect on an emotional Yellow Ribbon Honor Flight trip to Washington have 2029 words, post on www.thenorthwestern.com at July 28, 2018. This is cached page on Talk Vietnam. If you want remove this page, please contact us.