50 years later, 103 Vietnam veterans finally received their homecoming at EAA AirVenture

Some of the veterans had never been to Washington, D.C. to see the memorial
Published: Jul. 28, 2023 at 9:55 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Even after arriving back home, many Vietnam War veterans still share a traumatic experience.

There was no welcome home celebration.

“Nothing, nothing. I came home to a four-month-old baby,” said one veteran. “I got off the plane in Washington, the state of Washington, and got on a commercial flight and came home and that was it.”

“When I came home in 1972, I got dropped off at the bus depot in Neenah and I started to walk home by myself and this stranger picked me up and gave me a ride home,” said veteran Thomas Buss. “I was in my uniform.”

On Friday at EAA Airventure, 103 Vietnam veterans finally received their homecoming. It was 50 years delayed.

“It’s the welcome home that I never got,” Buss said.

The group of veterans received the celebration after spending the day in Washington D.C. where they visited the Vietnam War memorials.

On Friday morning, a Yellow Ribbon Honor Flight departed the Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh to take them to the nation’s capital.

American Airlines flew the veterans on a plane specially designed for these experiences, staffed with pilots and flight attendants who volunteered their time on their day off to make the trip happen.

One veteran hadn’t been to Washington D.C. since 1966 when he was in high school and before his time in the service.

Others on the trip had never been.

“A lot of guys here that have never been there and seen these memorials before and they just were blown away,” said veteran Thomas Snider.

While on the flight out there, veterans received mail that they could open and read on their way from family, friends, and community members thanking them for their service. For one veteran, the mail call was one of the most emotional parts of the trip.

The once-in-a-lifetime trip was free of charge to the veterans.