Richard was a young man in Vietnam in 1969. All alone, he missed home, missed his mother’s cooking and missed his friends. In Vietnam everything was different. He was just a kid and he was scared. He was scared he wouldn’t see his mom again, worried his girlfriend wouldn’t be there and anxious about his future. Richard experienced some very low points during his time in Vietnam. He saw things, did things and smelled things that he tried hard to put out of his mind. But he served his time honorably, followed orders, did his duty and thankfully he got to come home after 17 long months. It’s not lost on Richard that many of his brothers and sisters weren’t so lucky.
"I thank God every day that I'm alive."
Upon discharge, Richard had heard that traveling back home to the states could be tricky. He was told to take off his uniform at the airport in California. People were protesting the war and our warriors took the unfortunate brunt of it. He saw guys get spit on and called names, but Richard kept his eye on the prize and made it back home. Back to his mom, his girlfriend and a sense of normalcy, but that’s when the dreams started.
“When I got back home things weren’t the same. I was 20 but I felt 80. ‘The Dream’ started right away, and it was with me for over 40 years. I dreamt I was getting loaded onto a Huey helicopter. They put me in a body bag on the cold medal floor of the helicopter, but I was still alive, I was breathing, and I was terrified. When I try to scream, I wake up drenched in sweat. It was horrific. I had this dream every day of my life for the last 42 years. It stopped though. I was lucky enough to go on Old Glory Honor Flight Mission 40. It was more than I could have ever imagined. The care, concern and love I felt that day was remarkable. Complete strangers shook my hand; little kids gave me a hug or a high five. We were treated like royalty. I didn’t know how therapeutic it was going to be, but you know what? I never had that dream again. Since I was 20 years old, I’ve had that dream every night and now I don't. A cure? I don't know, but years later I am here, healthy and thankful for the opportunity. To all those that made it possible, thank you.”
Since 2009, Old Glory Honor Flight of Northeast Wisconsin has been dedicated to honoring our local war veterans. Over the last 11 years we’ve transported 5,800 veterans to Washington DC and have organized many other special missions, including one to Vietnam called ‘Return to Nam’
. But we can’t stop now, our work is too important! We’ll keep pushing until our goal is reached by giving every war veteran the opportunity to receive their long overdue expression of gratitude and appreciation from our community.
The veterans tell us they can finally sleep at night. Their spouses tell us “he’s lighter somehow” and their kids tell us “for the first time, dad’s willing to talk about his service.” And so on. The impact that an Honor Flight can make in the life of our male and female veterans is profound. Some vets are seeking closure. Some are seeking peace of mind. Some are seeking affirmation that their service wasn’t in vain and others reflect on their experiences and appreciate a day in DC.
Will you help them get there? Through your financial contribution, you can help vets like Richard go to our Nation’s Capital in Washington, DC to reflect on their service, salute lost comrades and make new friends.
Be a hero, help our heroes heal and finally take their once-in-a-lifetime tour of honor. You can give them this opportunity. Let’s do this while they are still able.