( March 25, 2019)
Author: Paul Heling
Source: WTAQ News Talk Radio
This welcome was full of overwhelming support when the Return to 'Nam Old Glory Honor Flight journey ended at the Menasha High School Fieldhouse on March 9th. We spoke to family members before the celebration began.
After two weeks on a trip they'll never forget, 52 Northeast Wisconsin Vietnam war veterans returned home from Vietnam Saturday night. And unlike the first time they came home from Southeast Asia, this was a reception full of love and gratitude among generations of family, friends and the rest of the community.
None of these guys knew that thousands were waiting in a packed Menasha High School Fieldhouse. Chris Dachelet was one of the thousands and is the wife of veteran Jimmy Dachelet. She was nervous while he was gone, knowing he was going back to a place to face some demons, "I was just wondering how they were all handling it. I was watching all the pictures on Facebook and it made it easier for me."
As they were paraded in for their official welcome home Sammi Dachelet was excited to see her brother-in-law Jimmy, "For them to take him over to Nam and get all the things he was worried about and thought about all these years. I think that's all taken care of now. I'm excited to see him."
Dan Van Lanan was here to welcome his two brothers, Tom and Dale. He says they both wrestled with the idea of going back to Nam.
"They both got some very trying emotions, as anyone would have. The family is glad they made it home safe and sound. Extremely emotional for everybody."
And Van Lanan says this homecoming was far different than one he personally saw at an airport when some Vietnam veterans came home a half a century ago... "I actually saw where two soldiers came down the hallway. A lady with a child walked up to them, spit in their face and called them baby killers. People were so ungrateful for what these soldiers did. They came home, not appreciated. Hopefully, this will give them some closure."
Steve Trinkner, with Old Glory Honor Flight, hopes the students in attendance learn a lesson not taught in the classroom, "The biggest takeaway for young people in all this is to make sure you live a life worthy of the sacrifice these guys have made."
Between the bands, the speakers, the food and the balloons, a lot of people had a hand in this welcome home party. And the turnout, on a night with winter weather advisories posted, also makes a statement...
"It makes my heart feel warm. Very heartfelt, very appreciative."
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