Time may not heal all wounds, but for a group of Vietnam Veterans, it certainly changed the perspective from many angles.
A group of 52 Vietnam Vets from northeastern Wisconsin (pictured above) recently returned for the first time to the country where they fought a half century ago as part of the “Return to Nam” trip organized by Old Glory Honor Flight.
After the two-week trip, they were welcomed home by several thousand enthusiastic and appreciative supporters who braved a mid-March Wisconsin snowstorm to pack the Menasha High School Fieldhouse.
“This reception was unbelievable,” said Tom Van Lanen, a 71-year-old Marine Veteran from Green Bay, who made the trip with his brother. “Everyone was screaming, yelling and hollering, they were waving, saluting and shaking your hand. It was fantastic. Just unreal.”
The warm welcome at both ends of the trip was vastly different from those of 50 years ago.
“It was great, but so much different, a complete reversal,” Van Lanen said. “You’ve got to be a little nervous because it’s been 50 years and you don’t know what it’s going to be like when you go back. It was a big surprise. The change, from the way everything was, it’s more modern, thousands of motorbikes, you might have seen that on TV.”
A capacity crowd at the Menasha High School Fieldhouse welcomed the Veterans back after their trip. (All photos by Jim Koepnick)
The tour group went back to the base camp, about 40 miles south of