‘It broke my heart’ - Ida County raising money for proper homecoming for Vietnam veterans

Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 5:45 PM CDT
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HOLSTEIN, Iowa (KTIV) - Veteran organizations in Ida County, Iowa are asking for your help in fundraising an effort that sends veterans to Washington D.C. as part of the “Honor Flight” program.

Another Honor Flight will take to the skies this May from Fort Dodge, carrying veterans from Ida County and the surrounding areas to D.C.

Before the flight, veteran organizations are hosting throwback entertainment based on the 60s, 70s and 80s, when singers and entertainers traveled to war zones to entertain the troops. The event will raise money to fund future Honor Flights.

“So for Ida County, for each veteran, we want to send (from the) county, we need to raise $600 for that. And hopefully, we fill this place up and we can send them $3,000 or $4,000,” said Dale Ullrich, the veteran service director for Ida County.

Emil Hiykel will be on the May Honor Flight. He recalls coming home from his tour in Vietnam, and not receiving a great welcome.

“My dad... was working out of town as a police sergeant. And he told me get out of here, get out of those clothes and put civilian clothes on because you’re gonna get harassed and, and it’s terrible. And it kind of just broke my heart. Like, I’m proud I served and now kinda gotta hide,” said Hiykel.

Two Vietnam-era veterans KTIV spoke with said the idea of a poor homecoming didn’t just happen in some faraway place. It happened right here in the Midwest and they say that’s one of the best things about the Honor Flight Program it gives those veterans the homecoming they deserve.

“I envision just a lot of guys coming together enjoying each other and then going to see the memorials that have been built for those who have served in the honor them,” said Hiykel.

The fundraiser will be held on March 28, that’s next Tuesday, at the Rosemary Clausen Performing Arts Center in Holstein. The event starts at 7 p.m. and tickets are $20.