Wisconsin veterans return to Vietnam

Vietnam veterans
Vietnam veterans
Published: Apr. 19, 2022 at 7:55 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - A man is helping bring fellow veterans back to Vietnam.

Keith Hess, the organizer of the trip, has been itching to go back to Vietnam since his return from his Old Glory Honor Flight three years ago.

After years of planning, today he set off on his journey alongside 18 other veterans.

“This is just a life changing experience for some of these guys,” Hess said.

For Hess, going back to Vietnam three years ago was the closure he needed to move on with his life.

“When I came home from Vietnam I was a completely changed individual. I forgot about the bad times from 50 years ago and I remember the good times now,” Hess explained.

After his trip, making sure other veterans got the same experience became his passion.

”I talked to so many people who wanted to go bad. And I talked with Old Glory Honor Flight and they had no plans of doing it again so I figured the only way we are going to do it is if somebody steps up and sets up a trip,” Hess began. “When I set this up two years ago we didn’t plan on COVID lasting two and half years, and we didn’t plan on the dates getting backed up twice.”

After over 50 years, local veterans are finally heading back to Vietnam for two weeks of sight seeing and reflecting on a place that once brought them so much pain.

”The veterans are nervous and excited a little bit anxious. It’s really just the fear of the unknown and its a long day to get there,” Old Glory Honor Flight Executive Director Diane McDonald said.

While they don’t know what to expect...

“We will have to wait and see until I come back and we will talk again. Its going to be tough. But ill make it,” Veteran Steve Baugnet said.

They said they are excited for the opportunity to change their outlook.

“While the trip isn’t meant to be therapeutic, for most of them it is and that’s the real reason they are there. To find closure, to find healing,” McDonald expressed.

Friends and family joined the veterans for their send off, alongside elementary students with signs.

The veterans have about two days of travel before they land.

They are set to return in two weeks on May 3.

Keith Hess organized his own flight to transport him and 18 other veterans to Vietnam.

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