First honor flight with mostly Vietnam Vets

By Gretta Patrick | gpatrick@whbf.com

Published 09/16 2016 10:31PM

Updated 09/16 2016 10:31PM

The 37th Honor Flight of the Quad Cities was the first one with mostly Vietnam Vets. 
 
Leo Anderson is a retired marine, and a Vietnam Veteran. He went on a previous flight as a guardian, but this is his first time going as one of the veterans. 
 
"It's unbelievable, and I'm looking forward to seeing the whole thing again, and I'm going with a friend of mine, so that makes a big difference too," Anderson said. 
 
David Helfrich is Anderson's good friend, and fellow Vietnam Vet. 
 
"This is absolutely awesome. I've never had this experience before, never had anything like it. This is wonderful," Helfrich said. 
 
Crowds gathered at Dulles airport to welcome the veterans to D.C.. The first stop: The National Air and Space Museum.
 
After visiting the museum, the veterans got the chance to wander the National Mall for a little while. They visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall,and the Korean War Memorial. 
 
Leo and David wanted to see the Lincoln Memorial first.
 
Then, they headed to the Vietnam Wall. 
 
"Until you see the names on the wall, and you see how many that represents, then it hits you hard. A lot of us are going to go to a certain panel and we'll look up names of guys that we served with over there," said Honor Flight board member and Vietnam Veteran David Woods. 
 
David was searching for a fallen soldier and friend, James Sephrans, who died on February 6,1968. 
 
"You got people connected with each one of those names. They're not just names on a wall, there's over 58,000 people represented there," Helfrich said. 
 
"I knew one guy, who was the first one in Davenport, I think, that was killed. And I forget names very easily, but I don't forget his name," Anderson said. 
 
Up next: The air force memorial, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and finally the WWII Memorial. Then. It was time to come home.
 
"These are the guys that never got the welcome home that they should have gotten," Woods said. 
 
They were greeted by 2,000 people: A reception most of them waited decades for. 
 
"It's a lot different than when we got back, This is really welcoming," Helfrich said. 
 
A Quad Cities tradition that gives our country's heroes memories to last forever. 
 

Copyright 2016 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.