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WI veteran gets emotional surprise at Vietnam Memorial

Posted at 7:51 PM, Jun 07, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-09 10:35:16-04

WASHINGTON D.C. (NBC 26) — A total of 58,318 names of people who lost their lives during the Vietnam War are engraved on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington D.C.

The Old Glory Honor Flight provides veterans a chance to visit Washington D.C. and witness memorials created to honor the lives of those they once fought alongside.

Vietnam Veteran Ed Heyward of Sturgeon Bay received the honor of flying on the Old Glory Honor Flight with his kids and said the day was full of emotions going back more than 50 years, which began when he came off the plane at Reagan National Airport to hundreds of people applauding.

"You didn't talk about discharge uniform is still in my sea bag like the day I took it off," said Heyward. "And suddenly things change. And people [are] welcoming me and thanking me for my service."

While Heyward was reflecting at the many names that he knew on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, his daughter-in-law and granddaughter arrived after driving from North Caroline to introduce Heyward to his new 18-month-old great-grandson Jackson.

"My great-grandson, the first time I met him!" exclaimed Heyward. "I'm such a mixed bag of emotions right now...seeing my great-grandson for the first time.

Heyward then gave each of his family members a piece of his history by providing each of them with copies he made of the names of the people he knew etched into the wall.

"These are the names on the wall, with an explanation of who they were and who they were to me," said Heyward as he handed his family copy paper. "Free ain't free. Keep that, have the boys come here sometime, knowing full well that I have."

Someday, Heyward hopes to go back to the memorial with even more of his family, but tonight, he's headed home to Wisconsin.

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