Friday the EAA decided to take some time away from the sights and sounds of the air shows to say thank you to a special group of people.
130 veterans returned from a trip to Washington, D.C.
“When they came back from Vietnam they really felt like, ‘Boy, I served my country and I did my time, I did what I was asked to do and yet here we were, frowned upon and all kinds of demonstrations against us,'” says Bob Fahrbach. “This is finally some recognition for them.”
It was a welcome home celebration a long time in the making.
“When I came home from Nam I had no welcome at all,” says veteran Tom Keefe. “We had to take our uniform off and put on our civilian clothes”
“I came home from Vietnam and I was spit on,” says Ted Miller. “Today I was heaped on with love wand affection. It’s a different world today.”
Many of these veterans took plenty of flights during their time in war, but never one like this.
A trip that reminded them of the past but would bring them to the present.
“I’ve never been exposed to anything like it, says veteran Richard Casey. “It was just very moving, very emotional. I saw one of my comrades on the wall this morning, he’s been dead for 15 years, he was killed in ’68, Michael James Kelly. It’s just an incredible experience”
And it wasn’t just a moving experience for them, but for their families.
“I’m very thankful that he even thought about going because he hasn’t been wanting to think about Vietnam for a long time,” says Richard’s wife, Nancy Casey.
But this celebration so long in the making was one fit for a king.
“They treated us like royalty,” says veteran Vernell Kratzke. “And I don’t know if I deserve all that and they spoiled a veteran I’ll admit.”