“My parents didn’t even pick me up from the airport:” Vietnam Veteran reflects on complicated war homecoming

Published: Jun. 13, 2023 at 6:00 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - For Veteran Carl Rainey, Tuesday drummed up memories of when he received his draft notice in 1969.

“I thought it was a game, no big deal until I got over there. I got shot at the first day. Then I realized this is real, and you’re going to go home then you have to pay attention,” said Rainey.

When he did make it back, it wasn’t the homecoming he hoped for.

“It wasn’t good. No body anywhere. My parents didn’t even pick me up at the airport.”

Carl’s experience isn’t unique. For thousands of returning veterans, they found themselves at the center of the thorny politics surrounding the war.

It’s one reason Congressman Bob Latta makes a point to welcome visiting veterans.

“Its so important to honor our veterans - especially this group, Vietnam veterans. When they came home, they didn’t get thanked. It took decades for people to reach out to them to say thank you,” said Latta.

Carl is grateful the attitudes changed, and grateful for the opportunity to visit these memorials honoring service, and those who didn’t make it back.

“This is unreal. It’s just, amazing”

Tuesday is one of four Flag City Honor flights this year - organizers tell me it costs about $200k to get one of these flights off the ground, and a lot of that money comes from community donations.