December 21, 2011
For a few moments on Dec. 14, 1st Infantry Division Soldier Sgt. Joshua Feinburg stood among heroes.
That day, Feinburg, a mechanic assigned to the Big Red One's Warrior Transition Battalion, led almost two dozen Vietnam veterans and one World War II veteran on an impromptu tour of Fort Riley's WTB Complex. Through the hallways of the WTB barracks, the men and women who have seen war in places like Lai Khe and Fallujah traded stories, laughter and a keen understanding of their shared experiences.
"It was a pleasure and an honor to be in their presence," Feinburg said.
The honor, however, was all theirs, according to many of the veterans who participated in the visit to the WTB Complex.
"We wouldn't be free today without people (like these)," Vietnam Veteran Chuck Lear said. "We had a legacy we followed, they had a legacy they followed and there will be people who come after them too. The reason this country is still free is because they are willing to pick up the torch and move forward."
Last week's visit to the WTB Complex was part of a day-long trip to Fort Riley that the veterans, most of whom were members of the Kansas City-based Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 317, made to show their support for Soldiers and Families of the Big Red One.
"We are here to show them our support and wish them all our best," Vietnam Veteran Ken Rhode said. "We want them to know that we love them and we are glad they are home."
In addition to their visit to the WTB Soldiers, the veterans helped prepare and serve the Dec. 14 No Dough Dinner, a monthly event coordinated by the post's USO team that provides a free dinner for Fort Riley's Soldiers and Families.
Randy Barnett, president of VVA Chapter 317, said the visit to Fort Riley's Soldiers was important to him because he wants to make sure none of today's veterans are forgotten like so many were back in the 1960s and 1970s.
"We have to support those who put their lives on the line for us," he said.
Feinburg said the support he and his fellow Soldiers receive from veterans like Barnett, Lear and Rhode is amazing.
"Even though it was a different battlefield, a different time, there is a common bond between all of us and we know what the other has been through," the Iraq veteran said. "We have all fought our own wars and now we have to stick together to fight to take care of each other back here."