Honor Flight veterans return home after emotional weekend in D.C.

Don Chellis pauses at the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C., as part of the South Willamette Valley Honor Flight. (Photo by Leigh Bock)

WASHINGTON D.C. - Veterans from the Willamette Valley are had the opportunity to experience their memorials in Washington, D.C., with the South Willamette Valley Honor Flight.

The Vietnam Wall was one of the memorials, and it is perhaps the most straightforward of the war memorials.

Names.

However, it is the one that brings out the most raw emotion from those who come here.

There are more than 58,000 names on the wall. For some it’s finding the names of those they fought with. Others are searching for the names of fathers and brothers and other family members who were killed in Vietnam.

Many are hoping to find closure.

"What went through my head was, I told them I was sorry. I had the opportunities out of life that they never had..and that’s when your heart goes out to them," said Frank Perry, a Vietnam Veteran.

Volunteers help those who want to take something home from the wall.

A bronze sculpture of three soldiers is a popular spot for Vietnam Veterans to have a picture taken.

"I looked much the same and the expression on their face tells it all," said Perry. "It’s just like they stepped out of the jungle and into the bush, out of the bush. Pretty amazing, pretty amazing.”

For many of the Vietnam Veterans from the Willamette Valley, this Honor Flight has given them something they missed out on a half century ago.

They leave here with the gratitude of a nation that, many say, turned it's back on them all those years ago.

DON'T MISS | Honor Flight arrives home in Oregon

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