DANVILLE, Ill. (WCIA)–A Danville veteran says he got the flight of a lifetime.
He and his son Tom traveled to Washington D.C. with other veterans on the Land of Lincoln Honor Flight.
The year is 1968, and First-Class Petty Officer Ken Hunter signed up to serve in the Vietnam war. As he and thousands of other Americans returned, tensions were high, and the country was divided.
“When I got out, there were a lot of protests going on, I was home on leave one time, and it was really bad, then and when we got out, they really didn’t appreciate anything,” said Hunter.
He says many veterans were angry and some haven’t fully healed from that pain.
“I do feel relieved now they’ve kind of recognized all the branches of what we’ve done,” said Hunter.
While Hunter says he was never mad, he didn’t find true healing for 34 years. That’s until he and his son went on the honor flight.
“It was really enjoyable, and I think Tom will appreciate it when he gets older, I did to have my son with me,” said Hunter.
Hunter, around 100 veterans, and their chaperons boarded a plane in Springfield. When they landed, they were welcomed by people at the airport.
“The best part is I got to talk to other veterans, and we got to hash this and that out, and be around them and ask what aspect their life was like we got to,” said Hunter.
He says the hardest part of the trip was seeing all the names of the soldiers who died in Vietnam.
“It was like my generation, you saw the wall, that’s what I told Tom, I said that was my generation, it’s gone now, it can’t be replaced,” said Hunter.
Hunter says he enjoyed a packed day of activities before they made the journey back home. When they landed, they got the homecoming welcome that Hunter’s wife Linda says they should have gotten back then.
“The appreciation that everyone was showing, and the gratitude they were showing, even the volunteers and flight staff, it was emotional for everybody,” said Linda Hunter.
Now the Hunters want other veterans to have the same experience. They signed up through their local VFW post. To apply, click here.