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Give These Vietnam Vets a Warm Welcome Home

By Barbara A. Schmitz

July 26, 2018 - Some were spit on, and most didn’t wear their uniform on their way home because they didn’t want to be identified as a veteran. And likely, few or none were thanked for the service when they returned home from the jungles of Vietnam, Laos, or Cambodia.

But that changes on Friday, July 27, 2018. Decades later, visitors to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2018 can thank 130 Vietnam veterans for their patriotism when they return from a daylong visit to Washington, D.C., at about 6:30 p.m. The American Airlines plane carrying all of the veterans and their guardians is expected to land after Friday’s air show, giving the crowd of thousands gathered in Boeing Plaza a chance to welcome these veterans home as they should have been decades ago.

It’s all part of the Yellow Ribbon Honor Flight, which is in its ninth year partnering with EAA. “There is not another organization that can provide such a wonderful welcome home for our veterans as EAA,” said Diane MacDonald, who co-founded Old Glory Honor Flight, Appleton, and now serves as treasurer and board member. “It’s such a positive experience.”

MacDonald said the veterans don’t pay for the flight. Instead, the nonprofit organization that is 100 percent volunteer run raises money to support the five flights made each year.

The veterans will leave Oshkosh at 6 a.m. and will fly into Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport where they will get a police escort, which allows them to cover a lot of ground quickly, MacDonald said. They will be going to the Lincoln, Vietnam, and Korean memorials; taking a city tour; visiting the American History Museum, where they will see the actual Star-Spangled Banner; and then heading to Arlington National Cemetery for the changing of the guard. “It’s a quick day, but a great day,” MacDonald said.

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