OSHKOSH, Wis. (WBAY) - About 100 Vietnam veterans got the chance of a lifetime Friday to pay tribute to those who fought alongside them in the war.
The sixth Yellow Ribbon Honor Flight to Washington, DC, in partnership with EAA, took off from Wittman Regional Airport bright and early Friday morning. Veterans toured the Vietnam War Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, and the American History Smithsonian's Price of Freedom Memorial, which has a large exhibit on the Vietnam War.
It was a long one-day journey for the veterans and an anxious but exciting day for their families awaiting their return.
Before the plane landed, Kathy Parins told us she hopes her husband could take it all in.
"I think he was looking forward to talking about it and being around people that were in similar situations and just to reminisce a bit," she said.
Four-year-old Emalyn and 6-year-old Lily could not wait to welcome home their great uncle Randy Parins. They had flags, the young girls told us, and they were going to wave them.
And that they did, along with hundreds of others, as the 100 veterans made their way off the plane and through a cheering crowd with smiles and happy tears.
Carl Lorang of Green Bay spent three years in the Army. He says visiting Washington, the monuments, and Arlington National Cemetery was emotional.
"Looking at some of those pictures brings back an eerie time we spent in Vietnam and what happened to the troops over there," he said.
But he didn't expect it would be just as emotional returning home when he received letters from his family on the plane.
"That we didn't know was coming. There were some tearful moments. I got teary eyed," Lorang said.
"We were writing letters to my father about why he was appreciated, we had the grandkids also, and they just gave them on the plane, and he just texted us," Lori Gezella said.
Gezella read his text aloud, "OK you guys, just got mail call. Got tearful with all the things you guys said. It's one thing to know you are loved but it's another to hear it from you all. I love you all as well. C ya."