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Decades after tense homecoming from Vietnam, two Madison County veterans chosen for Honor Flight

Honor Flight .jpg
Posted at 11:34 AM, May 10, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-10 13:34:06-04

Two Madison County veterans recently returned from a trip to Washington D.C.—a trip that felt like a long overdue homecoming.

“Sometimes I think it was harder coming home than it was being there,” says U.S. Army Veteran Steve Garrett.

Throughout Steve Garrett’s Madison County home, you can see the love he has for his country. He, like many Vietnam veterans did not receive a warm welcome home.

“When we came back from Vietnam was not a good time. 1968 was not the epitome of support, and when we came home, we got nothing,” says Garrett.

Garrett served in the Army in Vietnam for nearly a year in the late 60s.

“My job was to go around—they're in charge of transportation, so the First Logistical Command moved all the materiel in Vietnam,” says Garrett.

Now, one way veterans are being recognized for their service is a trip to Washington, D.C. called an Honor Flight. A year ago, a flight attendant saw Garrett's veteran hat.

“And she said, Have you been in an honor flight? And I said no. And my thought was, that's for old people. So I guess I'm in that category. She said oh no, you qualify,” Garrett said laughing.

Steve and fellow veteran John Dale signed up for the trip, and last weekend were welcomed with a water salute in our nation’s Capitol. At first, Garrett wasn’t sure the trip was for someone like him.

“They knew what we had been through. Now, I'm not a combat vet, and when I got the call, I was really nervous because a friend of mine was a combat vet. He's spent 322 days in the jungle,” says Garrett. “Eric, I'm nervous about going because you guys are the heroes. And all I was- was there. He told me, he said, if you don't go, I'm going to come and drag you to go, because if it wasn't for you, we wouldn't have got the materiel that we needed to do our job.”

After the nerves wore off, Garrett says he made the most of the trip, in awe of the Vietnam memorial. Even spending time at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

“All the vets there had been to Vietnam, so we all knew what we had been through. And it was really emotional,” says Garrett.

After all these decades, this was the welcome home Garrett had been waiting for.

“It made everybody feel good. It was better than a parade because we've had 56 years since we've been home,” says Garrett.