50 Vietnam veterans are getting the welcome home they never received. They boarded a flight to D.C. Friday morning for Honor Flight Austin's inaugural "Welcome Home Flight."
50 Central Texas Vietnam War veterans waited in the Austin Bergstrom International Airport terminal for Honor Flight Austin's inaugural "Welcome Home Flight."
They did not know what to expect--as they never got a welcome home.
"The names they used to call you," said veteran Freddie Garcia.
Freddie Garcia was a generator-repairman, operator. He was told not to wear his uniform stateside.
"It was sad. Everybody thought it was our fault," said Garcia.
Frank Fields of Liberty Hill says it took him more than a decade to cope with his experiences.
"I had a hard time sleeping. You couldn't associate with people. You know you didn't want to be around people. You couldn't talk. People, they didn't care about it and they didn't want to know about it," said Fields.
Then, the procession began. Some veterans wiped away tears as passengers rose to their feet to cheer for them.
"It really makes you feel good inside," said veteran Tom Edge.
"It's long overdue. They still talk about more of the way they were treated when they came home then the war itself," said Allen Bergeron, Honor Flight Austin.
The purpose of the flight isn't only to thank the veterans for their service, but to send them to the nation's capital to see their memorial wall where they can read the names of those who didn't survive.
"They were all brother in arms, we ate, drank together and I miss them all," said veteran Tom Edge.
"I got five friends who got killed all at once with a detonated mine. They were all together and they blew it up," said Garcia.
Garcia visited the memorial last year.
Frank Fields has never been.
"I've had about four or five that never came back," said Fields.
Fields has stage four kidney cancer that doctors say is due to the effects of agent orange.
For Honor Flight Austin to give him the chance to visit the wall he says, "It's the greatest thing in the world besides having grandkids."
The mission continues as there is another flight scheduled for this fall.
"So we need your help to help us find every willing and able WWII Korea and now Vietnam veterans," said Bergeron.
Apply for a flight here.