South Plains Honor Flight visits Korean, Vietnam Memorials before being welcomed home

Published: Jun. 6, 2023 at 10:36 PM CDT
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (KCBD) - The Texas South Plains Honor Flight returned home Monday after three days in Washington, D.C., with Korean and Vietnam War veterans. Those veterans visited their respective memorials before they arrived home to a hero’s welcome.

Chaland Scrivner was one of the five Korean War veterans who marched along the Mural Wall at the Korean War Memorial, carrying the wreath that was placed in honor of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

“I had two cousins ashore at the same time,” Scrivner said. “One made it home.”

He found the name of his cousin on the Wall of Remembrance, a new addition to the memorial.

Jacob Montoya, a Vietnam War veteran, also found a name on that wall: a childhood friend who was one of several who went to war, but was the only one who died.

“What hurt me the most was his dad losing his son,” Montoya said. “That’s why I wanted to come by.”

The five Korean War veterans were surprised by members of the South Korean military who happened to be visiting the memorial. They shook hands and took a picture with the group of men who fought for their freedom.

On the other side of the National Mall is the Vietnam War Memorial, a wall of more than 58,000 people who lost their lives.

Miree Walker was one of the veterans who carried a wreath to be placed at the memorial. After the ceremony he found the name of Carl Henly who could have avoided military service as an only child, he said, but volunteered and ultimately died.

“I thought about him a lot, how we used to play together,” Walker said.

Jesse Hittson had several names to trace onto paper to take home.

“The day I got shot, the guy in front of me and the four behind me died instantly,” Hittson said.

All were killed in an ambush during an operation he said lasted days. He recalled it was something like you’d see in movies.

“Airplanes coming in and guys shooting over our head and us shooting back at them,” Hittson said.

Ron Smith was moved to tears when he found the name of his brother, Lloyd.

“He was three years younger than me,” Smith said. “He followed me into the military. He always followed me.”

He said his brother was also ambushed.

“I’m proud he served his country but this is too much,” Smith said waving his hand on the wall. “It’s too many bodies.”

Jim Allgaire had visited the memorial before, but knew so many who were killed, he found more familiar names on this visit. He says it is vital to have this place of remembrance.

“It’s so important, because they’ll never be forgotten, and that’s the most important thing for me,” Allgaire said. “It still hits me very hard, because I lost some good guys, some really good guys.”

Dick Woodcock saw the name of fallen friend who he said was killed the same day he arrived in Vietnam. He sat down in front of his name at the bottom of a panel of the memorial.

“Just to say, hey,” Woodcock said. “I knew his family for along time. It’s OK. It’s OK.”

Lubbock Fire Rescue gave the plane carrying the South Plains Honor Flight a water cannon salute as it arrived at the Lubbock airport Monday night.

Inside the terminal were family, friends and grateful Americans holding flags and signs to show the veterans their appreciation and to give them a welcome that few had ever received.

“It was so happy because I didn’t get that,” Larry Hill, a Vietnam veteran, said.

For some, the experience on the Honor Flight is indescribable.

“This is worth all of it, just for this,” Ron Combs, a Vietnam veteran, said. “I can’t put it any other way.”

The Texas South Plains Honor Flight is made possible by community donations and volunteer staff members. Click here to donate and learn more.

Earlier coverage of the 2023 Texas South Plains Honor Flight:

Significant ceremonies on Day 2 of the South Plains Honor Flight

Symbolic, surprising honors on first day of South Plains Honor Flight