The 62nd Central Missouri Honor Flight
Press Release: Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer
April 1, 2022- On Wednesday, we celebrated National Vietnam Veterans Day to honor the Americans who served our country in Vietnam. Many soldiers who served in Vietnam were drafted, taking them away from their families, school, and jobs for years. These servicemembers served honorably, and they returned home to a tumultuous country that was divided on our participation in the war. Many soldiers faced ridicule from anti-war groups when they got home, despite the fact that so many were drafted and served our country dutifully and courageously. They put their lives on the line not just to protect their loved ones, but an entire country of strangers. They deserve our undying gratitude, and I’m very pleased that National Vietnam Veterans Day was established in 2017.
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the war, Governor Parson and Lieutenant Governor Kehoe held a pinning ceremony to recognize some of the Missourians who served in Vietnam. Many soldiers did not receive the proper thanks when they returned home due to controversy surrounding the war, but this event in conjunction with the Missouri Veterans Commission’s virtual event was a great way to let these Missourians know we haven’t forgotten or lost our appreciation for their service. My brother-in-law served two tours in Vietnam and has suffered from PTSD as a result. Hearing his stories over the years has allowed me a deeper understanding of the sacrifice, commitment and often pain that came with serving in the war as well as returning to life at home. Our veterans live with these haunting memories every day, and they deserve to feel our appreciation just as often.
Another way to show these veterans our appreciation is the through the Honor Flight Network. This is an incredible organization that was started in 2005 as a way to honor America’s veterans. The Honor Flight Network flies veterans from around the country to Washington, D.C. to see the monuments that were dedicated to their service and the memorials dedicated to their fellow soldiers who did not return home. 151,000 Vietnam veterans call our state home. Sadly another 1,400 Missourians gave their lives in the war. Most of our veterans have never seen the Vietnam Veterans Memorial or had the opportunity to properly honor the friends they lost. The Honor Flight is a great way to help them do just that.
The Honor Flight is resuming after a two-year pandemic delay this year and will take place on May 9th. It comes at no cost to the veterans and there is a ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery to honor them. For anyone who would like to assist in helping make this special trip possible, the Central Missouri Honor Flight organization is taking applications for volunteers to help here in Missouri as well as “guardians” who are interested in making the trip alongside the veterans.
Please visit their website https://www.centralmissourihonorflight.com/ or call (573) 256-1930 for more information. This is a once-in-a-lifetime trip, and I would encourage you to share this information with any Vietnam veterans you might know.