BERLIN, Wis. (WFRV) – A group of Vietnam War veterans got a celebrity send-off as they departed for a trip back to Vietnam.
The first time Everett Wood went to Vietnam for the war he was engaged to his wife Barbara who obviously couldn’t come with him.
Now Wood is returning to Vietnam, and this time Barbara was able to come with him.
“I wanted to go for a long time she didn’t want to I wanted to take her over there and show her the beautiful country and show her the beautiful people I have no resentment at all,” said Everett Wood.
“Just wanted to be with him to give him support and keep him safe,” said Barbara.
Everett and Barbara are part of a group of 19 veterans returning to Vietnam. Most of the veterans are from Wisconsin. The Woods are from Indiana.
Keith Hess helped to organize the trip which departed from the Berlin VFW on Tuesday afternoon. He said he was drafted in 1968 and was in Vietnam for 15 months. When he came home he joined the local reserve unit and was eventually deployed to Operation Desert Storm.
“I remember the good days, I don’t want to remember the bad days,” said Hess.
Hess said he’s been organizing this trip for two years and it kept on getting delayed because of COVID-19. The veterans will take a charter bus to O’Hare airport in the suburbs of Chicago and then fly to Qatar in the Middle East and then into Vietnam.
The community showed up to send the veterans off including a large group of elementary students from Clay Lamberton Elementary who showed up with signs and American flags. They got to shake hands with the veterans before they left and also lined the street waving their flags and signs as the charter bus carrying the veterans departed.
“We are showing the veterans we hope for safe travels for them,” said Catherine Green a second-grader from Clay Lamberton Elementary.
For many of the veterans, it’s their first time back to Vietnam in 50 years and some admitted that they are nervous.
Hess has been back to Vietnam since he fought in the war and offered this advice.
“Everybody is going to have one bad day in Vietnam where they get back to a spot where they have some bad memories,” said Hess. “When you get back to a bad spot you’re going to break down and cry.”
Hess said the country has changed a lot since he was there during the Vietnam War, but he says it’s a positive change.
The veterans will be in Vietnam for two weeks and will visit several different parts of the country.