SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – Saturday night, over 100 Vietnam War veterans received quite the welcome home.
Just before 9:30, the veterans on Midwest Honor Flight’s Mission 6 came home from their tour of the Washington, D.C. area. After a long day, the words “welcome home” hit home.
“An outstanding tour. We had police escort all over Washington D.C. so we got to see just about all the normal monuments that you likely see, excellent trip,” Navy veteran Ed Parkhurst said.
It was Midwest Honor Flight’s first mission exclusively for Vietnam veterans. For their tour, 120 veterans spent the day touring the nation’s capital. An important part of the day for many of the veterans was seeing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.
“I could look up some guys that we lost and found their name on there. Get some closure that way,” Army Veteran Roger VanRegenmorter said.
In the Vietnam War era, many people who served came home to a less-than-inviting welcome.
“When I came back from Vietnam, I came into California and that wasn’t a good welcome. It was a horrible welcome. Protestors and accusing us of being baby killers and a war they said we had to get out of,” VanRegenMorter said.
Saturday’s welcome home was a different story.
“It’s amazing how many come out just to welcome us and thank us for what we did. I guess I hadn’t ever felt that and I always felt ashamed. Today I think it helped me realize I didn’t have to be so ashamed of what we did,” VanRegenMorter said.
“It’s a little bit of a tear jerker, you know. A lot of respect from the people we’re talking to and quite a difference from 50 years ago,” Parkhurst said.
With one last mission complete and a happier homecoming, these veterans have found closure.
“It just means everything, because it just made me rethink this whole thing of being embarrassed about what I did to being now and feeling proud that I did my duty and came back,” VanRegenMorter said.