Two northern Missouri men who fought side by side in the Vietnam War reunited decades later during a veterans trip to visit the nation’s war memorials. Steve Paulsell, the flight director for Central Missouri Honor Flight, says the Kirksville war heroes did not recognize each other on the trip, but they still remembered a promise they made to each other all those years ago.
“He said, ‘Before he and I parted, we took a dollar bill and tore it in half and agreed that we would both carry that half a dollar bill for the rest of our lives in memory of our third buddy that was killed in action and our service together in Vietnam,’” says Paulsell.
He says that veteran still had his half of a dollar bill with him on the trip to Washington, D.C. The soldier then found out the other half of the same dollar bill was also aboard.
“They had not spoken since they had departed 50 years ago at an airport in California, never to speak to each other or know where each other were. At 3 ‘o clock in the morning on a bus going to St. Louis for an honor flight, they reconnected,” he says.
Paulsell says the veterans reconnected with each other and their fallen comrade.
“We’ve got a photograph of them putting that dollar bill back together underneath the name of their buddy on the Vietnam War wall,” he says.
Paulsell, who has been part of the organization since its inception in 2009, has many stories about the power these journeys have had on some of America’s brave.
“It’s much more than seeing the granite, the marble and the memorials,” he says. “We learned early on this is about healing. All these veterans, at least for the most part, are carrying around a lot of regrets, demons, sadness, frustration and so on. We hear so many of these veterans recount from their return and talking to their families later, what a difference it made, what a change it made in the veterans. We see them now out in the community wearing their veteran caps proudly as they should have been for a long, long time,” says Paulsell.
The organization’s last honor flight of the year lifts off tomorrow for Washington, D.C. A group of 108 veterans from World War Two and the Korean and Vietnam Wars will be going.
Central Missouri Honor Flight is accepting applications for its 2020 trips. Paulsell says Missouri has hundreds, if not thousands, of Vietnam War veterans who should fill out applications to get on an honor flight.
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