FORT RILEY, Kan. (KSNT)– They returned from war decades ago, but never got a proper “welcome home.”
Fort Riley held a goodbye celebration today that was years in the making. More than 200 Vietnam veterans were welcomed home at Fort Riley by hundreds of soldiers, family, and friends. The doors opened and the crowd erupted in cheers. The veterans said it was an experience like no other.
“Well the first thing you see is the big flag and that’s who we fight for,” said Lynn Rolf, a Vietnam veteran.
Many Vietnam veterans came home from the war to what they call a “feeling of rejection.”
“It warms me, it makes me feel good to see the other veterans get their due welcome home,” Rolf said. “It brings tears to your eyes, really.”
Getting the long-awaited welcome was not what one vet expected, however.
“I could not believe the response and the happiness I felt when we walked through those hanger doors,” said Richard Samble, a Vietnam veteran. “And see all the people, the applause it was unreal.”
Soldiers at Fort Riley said they’ve felt the love and appreciation after returning from deployment. They said they wanted the Vietnam veterans to know that same feeling.
“To know that the Vietnam veterans during that era weren’t treated as they should have been, it was great to be able to come in and show a bit of gratitude,” Fort Riley Major Quinton Leath said.
Gratitude that will, no doubt, last them the rest of their lives.