MENASHA, Wis. (WBAY) - Thirteen days after the 52 veterans from Northeast Wisconsin left for an Honor flight to Vietnam, they'll return home to Wisconsin. And Old Glory Honor Flight is hoping to give them the homecoming they missed out on 50 years ago.
The second day of their Return to Vietnam wrapped up with a group photo in Tay Ninh with Black Virgin Mountain as a backdrop. (WBAY photo)
A heroes homecoming is being planned for Saturday at Menasha High School's Fieldhouse for the 52 local men who've spent the last two weeks reliving and recovering from their time spent serving in the Vietnam war. Unlike 50 years ago, the plan is to welcome them home with open arms.
"America is the theme, right. These guys weren't used to that. They were told to change out of their uniforms before they walked through an airport when they got back the first time, so this is going to be very different," says Steve Trinkner, a member of the Old Glory Honor Flight board of directors.
The "Return to Vietnam" trip found the veterans walking the same ground where many of them lost brothers in the war. It's been an emotional trip and the homecoming is expected to be as well.
According to Trinkner, "We're going to have a very nice program specific to the welcome home, and it's going to be emotional, it's going to be therapeutic, it's going to be eye opening for a lot of folks."
But most importantly, it's going to be a celebration of not only these heroes but all of the others who proudly served.
"Part of the emotion is, they have friends, squad mates, people they served with that didn't get to experience this. They didn't live long enough to be called a veteran. So for them, being able to share that, that brief moment, and look back and go 'I did live a life worthy of the sacrifice,' and this is a really really easy way for the public to say that," adds Trinkner.
Doors to the fieldhouse will open up at 5 p.m. on Saturday. The veterans are expected return at about 6 p.m.