Badger Honor Flight a healing flight for one local Vietnam veter - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Badger Honor Flight a healing flight for one local Vietnam veteran

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DE FOREST (WKOW) --- Some local veterans will head off Saturday morning on the trip of a lifetime. They're traveling to Washington D.C. as part of the Badger Honor Flight to see the veteran memorials built in their honor.

Herbert Damsteegt first visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial 15 years ago.

“I was looking for two names of buddies that were very close to me in Vietnam and I couldn't find either one.” Damsteegt said.

But Saturday, the former army sergeant will be one of 88 veterans from World War II, Korean, and Vietnam wars to fly from Madison to the nation's capital to see the memorial.

“It's been 50+ years since the end of the Vietnam War. And it was a conflict that divided the country,” said Brian Ziegler, Chairman, Badger Honor Flight.

Vietnam veterans didn't receive a healthy welcome home after the war, which makes this trip all the more special.

“You didn't want to wear your uniform because people looked at you funny. They harassed you, they called you names,” Damsteegt said.

Years after coming home to a not so heroic welcome, Vietnam veterans heading to Washington D.C. hope during this homecoming they will receive the respect that is long overdue.

“We came back individually. And there was no camaraderie, there was no ceremony that says welcome home. For now time spend time with other veterans, going to the memorial and seeing them means a lot,” Damsteegt said.

The Badger Honor Flight is not just a way to honor old friends, Damsteegt said it's also a way to bring closure.

“It helps the veterans heal. As somebody said, this is a healing flight for veterans.”

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