REDSTONE ARSENAL, Alabama – Vietnam War veteran was honored by his son and his country during an Honor Flight to Washington, D.C., Sept. 10.
Sgt. 1st Class Manuel Romo, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command military equal opportunity adviser and program manager, escorted his father, retired U.S. Navy Petty Officer First Class Felipe A. Romo on the flight.
Honor Flights celebrate America’s veterans by inviting them to share in a day of honor at the memorials in the nation’s capital. The Honor Flight network currently serves veterans from the World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War eras. They also serve terminally ill veterans who served during any era.
“You get the welcome home you never received,” Felipe said. “I was mad at my country for the way I was treated after my return from Vietnam. I know there a lot of veterans suffering from PTSD who would benefit from the trip. I know I found closure.”
Felipe served in the Navy from 1960 to 1984. In Vietnam, he was assigned to the Mobile Riverine Force attached to the Army’s 9th Infantry Division.
“This trip was very important to honor the ones who didn’t make it back,” Felipe said. “For me it meant closure, but it was also about our fellow veterans being honored. It was very emotional, and I would highly recommend it to any veteran.”
During the trip, the Romos visited the U.S. Navy Museum, World War II Memorial, Korean War Memorial and Vietnam War Memorial.
At the U.S. Naval Museum, where the museum has actual turrets from a decommissioned ship, Felipe showed his son how he fired the cannons on the Battleship USS New Jersey.
“It was very emotional and educational,” Manuel said. “The Naval Museum had a cannon platform he used on the Iowa-class battleship USS New Jersey. It was the last ship he served on before he retired, and he was able to show me what he did on his crew position.”
Manuel said he is grateful to the organization for helping veterans visit the war memorials and as a Global War on Terror veteran, he knows the importance of honoring the sacrifice of those who paid the ultimate price for America’s freedoms.
“My father rarely speaks of his time in Vietnam,” Manuel said. “During this trip he really opened up about his deployment and the friends he had lost during the war. It helped me put in perspective why veterans always came to my own deployment send offs and welcome home ceremonies. They did it to ensure no Soldier, sailor, airman or Marine ever goes through the experience of what they had to go through when they returned from war.”
For more information on Honor Flights, visit www.honorflight.org.