Oneida Nation citizen and Vietnam veteran Mike Hill had the opportunity to take an Old Glory Honor Flight to Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, May 23. Hill, 72, is a United States Navy veteran who served onboard the USS Sutherland out of San Diego as a radioman second class (RM2).
“I was glad we were coming home (from Vietnam) but some of us had a pretty hard time,” Hill said. “We weren’t treated very well and I think the only people who were happy we were home were my mom and dad. But now all these years later I found out my cousin Fran Bingham submitted my name for the honor flight. Her husband had already been on one and said it was the most wonderful feeling in the world.”
The Northeast Wisconsin Old Glory Honor Flight organization offers local WWII, Korean War, and Vietnam veterans a memorable, safe and rewarding tour of honor to the nation’s capital. The tour happens in one day with the veteran departing on a flight from Appleton early that morning and returning that evening. During the trip, the veteran experiences accompanied tours of our national monuments and memorials, is well fed, and is well taken care of.
“As soon as we landed in Washington they were waiting for us and had a wheelchair ready for me,” Hill said. “There were three busses in our tour that took us all over and we had police escorts everywhere. I was blown away by how well taken care of we were. Seeing all of the memorials, the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and Arlington National Cemetery was an amazing experience.”
Hill is very grateful for the opportunity to experience the honor flight. “I feel I was very lucky that I got to go on this trip,” Hill said. “I spent some time at the Vietnam Memorial Wall and looked up a few names. I didn’t mind serving my time for my country and this honor flight was a reward for that and it made me feel pretty proud. I wasn’t feeling too good about it when we first came home but this experience made me feel pretty good inside and made up for all of that.
“I wish everybody could go because it sure changed my attitude and outlook,” Hill said. “I couldn’t believe when we got back the airport in Appleton was just packed. They had music playing for us and were yelling ‘welcome home’. It was such a difference from when I came home from Vietnam. This made up for all of that. This was a wonderful experience and something I will never forget.”
For more information about Northeast Wisconsin Old Glory Honor Flight, Inc., please visit www.oldgloryhonorflight.org or call (888) 635-9838.