Talons Out president Bobbie Bradley at Talons Out press conference. (Dave Benson, TSM)

In an emotion filled news conference, Talons Out announced today they will begin accepting Vietnam Era veteran applications, as part of it's One Last Mission to Washington D.C., to visit memorials built in their honor.

Talons Out President Bobbie Bradley said that while its primary focus will remain World War II and Korean War veterans, dwindling numbers of application led to discussions within Talons Out about moving forward to accept Vietnam Era veteran applications. Bradley said many Talons Out "hubs" have ended operations due to a combination of those dwindling application numbers and also steeply rising costs.

"When we started this endeavor five years ago, we could charter a 186 passenger plane at a cost of $52,000. Over the last five years, that number has increased to $93,000 for the same plane.

'After much discussion there was only one direction we could move, forward."

In an accompanying release, Bradley noted "the Vietnam War marked a time of social unrest that divided out nation like never before. Service members returning home with physical and emotional scars were greeted with an unprecedented level of disrespect and dishonor. The courage and sacrifice of our veterans cannot be overstated."

Talons Out Vice President Mark Callahan added "Honor Flight is a way many of these veterans to begin to heal and for our community to show our appreciation." .

 

Jim Wilson at Talons Out press conference. (Dave Benson, TSM)

Joining Bradley at the news conference, were three Vietnam era veterans, Dave Heyduck, Greg Myrkle and Jim Wilson, a military lifer, who added powerful comments at the event, about the way he and fellow veterans were treated, choking up as he said, "I hated this country. When I came back from the Far East, we were spit at. I told Branch I refused to serve in the United States. I hated our country, our people that bad. I said I'll serve anywhere you want me to go, but I will not serve here. What saved me was staying in and being around other veterans. Now I help with our veterans, giving my brothers and sisters from Nam."

Bradley said, "at the Vietnam Wall, more than 58,307 names of the fallen and MIA are engraved. But these are not names to our veterans. These are young men and women, friends and comrades who were full of life, laughter and vigor." Heyduck said he lost his best friend, who died in Vietnam.

Applications are being taken immediately, as are contributions for this enormous endeavor. Both can be made at the Talons Out website.

Bradley said any contribution would help from a $10 donation to buy a veteran lunch on flight day to sponsoring all or parts of an entire flight. Talons Out works very hard to make sure the experience for the veterans is first class.