‘This is sort of a tearjerker’: Nearly 50 war veterans honored with recreated homecoming

Honor Flight’s Top of Virginia chapter said that the homecoming for these veterans’ is 50 years overdue.
Published: Sep. 25, 2023 at 3:22 PM CDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV/Gray News) - Nearly 50 veterans have received the homecoming they deserved in Virginia.

Honor Flight of Top Virginia took the participating veterans in the Shenandoah Valley to view the memorial walls in Washington, D.C., for the wars they fought in, joined by guides from the organization.

The homecoming consisted of an escort into the Rockingham County Fairgrounds followed by a Mission BBQ dinner with desserts from Daughters of the American Revolution’s Massanutten Chapter, and music by the Just Jazzin’ Band.

Retired Sergeant Gary Allman said he appreciated the kindness he received. He saw a major difference in reception compared to his homecoming flight from the Vietnam War, which he remembers vividly.

“Protesters, they weren’t too welcome like everybody was today,” he said. “They called us killers and they tried to spit on us and they threw bricks and rocks at us.”

Members of the James Madison University Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) came to show the veterans their support. Many of them said that coming to the event further influenced their military decisions.

“I’m in the Army, I’m actually enlisted and in ROTC, so I definitely want to serve duty. I’m trying to go to dental school, so I serve active duty as a dentist,” Cadet Lynnea Gedney said.

Cheers were heard for all of the veterans, including one of the few military veterans from World War II.

“I saw it before, but this time was different with a lot of people there that I know, but this sort of a tearjerker,” Allman said.

No matter what the connection is, people still feel it’s important to thank veterans for the sacrifices they made.

“I definitely think that we should thank anyone who served in the military because they dedicated their time and their life to our country, and I respect that,” Gedney said.

Allman served in the 4th Infantry Division for two years in the Vietnam War. He said he extended service so he could get out early but has the spirit to serve today.

“I feel like sometimes I need to go back. Now you know that’s just my feelings because there’s things going on I really don’t approve of,” Allman said.

Honor Flight’s Top of Virginia chapter said that the homecoming for these veterans’ is 50 years overdue.