Hometown Heroes: Six Vietnam war veterans form special bond

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Six Wichita Army veterans are true friends. They include two Purple Heart recipients and even a pair of brothers.

“So, we all got together, and we stayed together, and this is what we have right here. Good brotherhood here, excellent brotherhood,” said Mike Marino.

Not only did they grow up right here in Wichita, but they were shipped over to Vietnam to serve in the Army together.

Sadly, many of the guys haven’t been able to leave the demons of the war behind.

“I try to forget about it. I don’t do well with remembering the war. Saw a lot of people die, saw a lot destruction,” said McDonald.

“But, I needed to go inside to make sure there wasn’t anyone else. When I got through the front door, there was a booby trap in the middle of the doorway, and it blew me back out,” said Leroy Seamster.

And, these war heroes never got the proper respect they deserved.

“When I came back home, I was spit on, called a baby killer. They were really mean to us really mean,” said Marino.

It wasn’t until 47 years later, as proud vets, they could keep their heads high during their honor flight to Washington, D.C.

“You walk through and everybody just claps, the whole way through that, it was pretty awesome,” said Greg Graves.

And, after all these years, finally a welcome home these Hometown Heroes.

“It’s hard to talk sometimes. The way they were clapping when it hits home now. Believe it’s something Greg said should have been done a long time ago,” said Jim Graves.

The honor flight was a chance to remember buddies who were lost by visiting the Vietnam War memorial and bring a little closure too.

“At least me personally, turned the page on the Vietnam War,” said Jim Freund. “You just didn’t talk about being in the Vietnam War for a long, long time.”

But, that’s not the case anymore. The group that’s all smiles has nothing to hide from, be ashamed of, is still relying on each other as they grow old as friends.

“I really enjoyed it. But, if it hadn’t been for these guys here, I would have never went. I wouldn’t have been able to do it by myself,” said McDonald.

A six-pack of friends worthy of a Hometown Hero salute.

KSN would love to here more about your Hometown Heroes in your city or town. You can send nominations to Darren at darren.dedo@ksn.com or reportit@ksn.com. Darren will be featuring Hometown Heroes on Monday nights on KSN News at 10 p.m.

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