‘We belong together’: Vietnam veterans reflect on trip to Washington D.C.

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Veterans received a big welcome home Saturday night from Washington D.C. after taking part in a Midwest Honor Flight trip.

The second Honor Flight this fall included the Star Spangled Banner at Sioux Falls Regional Airport on Saturday. The moment was special for Navy veteran Steve Butterfield.

“I’ve got a real place in my heart for the anthem, and I sing it at Huset’s Speedway every once in awhile and stuff, so I started singing, and everybody was like clapping when it was done,” he said.

Butterfield also sang on the plane.

“Then we got on the airplane to head to Washington, and they asked me to sing God Bless America and I was like, ‘I don’t know if I remember all the words to it, it’s been so long,’ but we did it. and I did it for the guys that were there. I did it for the guys that didn’t come home. I just did it,” Butterfield said.

121 Vietnam veterans took part in the trip to see memorials in the Washington, D.C. area.

“It also put some closure on how they were treated, 50-60 years ago coming home from the war and how we are trying to change that narrative,” Midwest Honor Flight president and director Aaron Van Beek said.

Susan Shrader was one of two female veterans on the flight. Her favorite part of the trip was seeing the Changing of the Guard, but it wasn’t the only meaningful part of her day.

“When we got the letters on the plane from the kids and from families, that really spoke to me a lot, and I am going to pay that forward,” she said.

The journey built new friendships.

“If you were in the military, you can understand it. The feeling is there. It’s different. We belong in this area. We belong together, and other people can’t feel that because they weren’t in the military. They may feel it to some point, but not like we do,” Marine veteran Ken Sedlacek said.

Van Beek says every veteran’s story needs to be told.

“They’re part of history, and that history is important to not only their family, their friends, but also to our country. Having them tell their stories before it’s too late for us to hear what they went through,” he said.

There will additional coverage of the Honor Flight in the near future, so be on the lookout for that.

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