LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - More than 50 years ago, service men left to defend their country in Vietnam.
“It was very challenging,” Vietnam veteran Paul Cador said.
"You never knew when general quarters would sound and you have to go to battle stations," Vietnam veteran Paul Herbert Jr. added.
When they returned home, the service men did not receive a hero’s welcome. Hebert recalls the time he tried to fly home to Louisiana from Boston after returning to the states.
“They told me, ‘no, we don’t fly people like you on our airlines,’” Hebert said. “I said, ‘what do you mean?’ She said, ‘baby-killers.’ Took me three days to get home in my navy uniform. That’s how I was greeted.”
However, the experience was different for all who served.
“Coming home; it was an experience of transitioning from a war zone to coming back home to family and friends,” Cador said.
"Some folk burning draft cars and all that, it was very sickening to me," retired veteran Ernie Cole added.
So, Fort Polk soldiers serving now wanted to change that, especially since they never felt that kind of rejection.
“We came home to people lining the airports applauding, and that’s what we want to return some semblance of experience to them,” Fort Polk Commander of Operations Colonel David Gardner said. “We wanted to make sure today that we could extend that ‘thank you’ to those that have served throughout American history.”
Veterans say it was a special moment for all who attended.
“I met with other service men about the same age as I am. Even though it didn’t know them, they didn’t know me, we still had something in common and we could talk about,” Vietnam veteran Jimmie Wilson said.
“I feel like I’m 10 feet tall,” Hebert said. “It really is impressive. I really appreciate it.”
Veteran’s Day is on Sunday, Nov. 11. Here is a list of several restaurants offering deals for veterans and active duty military.