OSHKOSH – The Old Glory Honor flight returned to EAA Friday night. The flight took Vietnam veterans from Oshkosh to Washington D.C. and back in one day.
A crowd of hundreds gathered during AirVenture Friday night. They were waiting for their heroes to arrive.
Once the plane landed friends and family burst into applause as the Vietnam veterans exited. There was cheering and happy tears.
“It’s unbelievable. The whole day was like this, everywhere we went it was people thanking us. It was awesome,” said veteran Al Pethke.
The servicemen spent the day in Washington D.C.
“We had the chance to see the wall, the Korean Memorial, the changing of the guard. It was good. It was beautiful,” explained veteran Ken Peeters.
But the homecoming might have been the best part. Most of these veterans did not receive a warm welcome when they returned from Vietnam.
“We got off the plane in San Francisco and there were protestors. It was just, it was nothing. There was nobody there,” said Pethke.
“Some guys I talked to, they were spit on and everything else. But this is great. This is great,” said Peeters.
But friends and family agreed these veterans deserve better.
“To show them how much we appreciate what they’ve done,’ said Jackie Peerenboom, sister of a returning vet.
“To see the people out here shows that everyone does care now. I think it’s big,” said David Piechowski, brother of a returning veteran.
And Friday they got better.
“To see all this, it’s once in a lifetime, it’s just unbelievable. I won’t come down til next Thursday probably!” exclaimed Pethke.
This is the second time the old glory honor flight has taken Vietnam vets to our nation’s capital during AirVenture. The organization typically takes World War II veterans on flights.