BERLIN, Wis. (WFRV) – A group of veterans headed out to Vietnam for a two-week trip to visit several different parts of the country on April 19, and after constant hurdles, the group returned home Tuesday evening.

Organized by Vietnam War veteran Keith Hess, the veterans got to visit several different monuments in the country such as the Dragon Bridge in DaNang, the Presidential Palace in Saigon, and the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum.

“Going back to Vietnam, you forget about the bad times. You remember the good times. It’s a beautiful country,” said Hess.

The group also got a surprise encounter with Vietnam’s President Nguyễn Xuân Phúc who was staying at the same hotel as the veterans. The President alongside the veterans shared stories and even shook hands.

“To meet the president of Vietnam it’s just something you can’t believe happened. It was something we did not expect honestly,” said Hess.

  • The group of veterans in front of the old post office in Saigon, Vietnam.
  • The Presidential Palace in Saigon
  • Veterans crossing the MeKong River
  • The Dragon Bridge in DaNang
  • 3 veterans on the trip that were high school classmates in Berlin, Wis.
  • Two veterans pose in front of the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum.
  • Picture of Vietnam President Nguyễn Xuân Phúc, who stayed at the same hotel as the veterans.
  • Picture of Vietnam President Nguyễn Xuân Phúc, who stayed at the same hotel as the veterans.

While 19 veterans made the trip to Vietnam, only 11 made it back. COVID-19, which delayed the trip for two years, made a reappearance and some of the eight veterans ended up getting the virus while in Vietnam and are currently quarantined in Hanoi.

“Everybody is feeling fine. The positive tests took them all by surprise. They all got retested and tested positive a second time. They’re going to get retested on Saturday and hopefully, they can come home Saturday,” explained Hess.

Hess added the group does not know the details of when the veterans with COVID-19 will be able to return home but is expected to keep in close contact with them and figure out the situation.

For more information about the Berlin VFW, click here.