Forty years ago TODAY, a 19 year old Army helicopter pilot, having served the larger part of his tour before being seriously wounded arrived back on US soil from Vietnam. He was strapped to a stretcher in the back of a C-141 Star-lifter. And to a welcome home and “thanks for your trouble”, that thankfully is not being repeated today. Thanks, in part to the volunteer pilots who make up the ranks of the elite “Veterans Airlift Command”.
Veterans Day is a good day to reflect on the positive change in attitude in America toward our returning warriors. It makes me proud (and not for the first time) to be an American.
Today a Chicago based volunteer for the VAC is en route from San Antonio to Columbus Ohio (after responding to an urgent call yesterday afternoon and flying to San Antonio last evening) to deliver a young Army specialist and his mother home to Columbus due to a family emergency. This young soldier is a bilateral above the knee amputee with a serious traumatic brain injury. And he knows he is appreciated by a grateful nation. The Veterans Airlift volunteers see to it that these families are treated with the respect, dignity and support that they deserve. While most of these heroes will tell you that this is not what they expect, we cannot deny that is our obligation as a grateful nation to recognize their sacrifice and offer them the best that we have.
Our volunteers do that. And this “old” Army Helicopter pilot…the one referred to above, is proud to be associated with this, one of the finest volunteer outfits in the US.