Vietnam vet tours Washington D.C. thanks to Honor Flight

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Vicki and Danny Hall celebrate after Danny's return from Saturday's Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. Danny joined a group of Vietnam vets from around the commonwealth to take a day trip to the nation's capitol.

Somerset resident and veteran Danny Hall participated in Saturday's Honor Flight out of Lexington, and while it was a long day for him and his family, he called it a "fantastic trip."

"We were treated like royalty," he said.

That includes both the trip to Washington, D.C., and the flight back home, disembarking from the plane at Blue Grass Airport into a column of people cheering and celebrating the service of all the Vietnam veterans who took the trip.

Hall said he had heard there were 2,500 people on hand for the final celebration in Lexington.

"They wanted to shake your hand, and they wanted to high-five you, and thank you for your service. It was nice. I appreciate what they done for us. Of course, when we came back from 'Nam, we didn't get that kind of reaction."

Charles Danny Hall was drafted into the Army on May 16, 1968 at the age of 18, according to information found by his wife, Vicki Hall.

He spent 19 months in the U.S. Army, attaining the rank of E4 Specialist. He was wounded and was awarded a Purple Heart as well as the National Defense Service Medal and the Vietnam Service Medal.

Danny himself seems to downplay his role. "I was just a grunt in Vietnam," he said. Most of the time, he carried an M-16 rifle and "walked point" for the rest of the group.

Saturday's trip wasn't Danny Hall's first trip to Washington, he said.

"I had already seen the Vietnam memorial, but it was nice to get to go back and see that it was taken care of, and everything really looked nice," he said. "When I went to see the Korean Memorial - they just keep them up so nice."

He and hundreds of other veterans were escorted from site to site and were able to see many of D.C.'s famous landmarks. He said that their bus drove by the Pentagon, where the guides pointed out the spot in the building that was hit by a plane on Sept. 11, 2001.

At the Vietnam Memorial, Danny and his son, Philip, stopped to make a rubbing on a piece of paper, capturing the name of a Pulaski Army soldier who didn't make it home - Cpl. Bert D. Lefler.

Lefler still has family in Pulaski, Danny said, and his intent was to bring something back to give to them. "I thought maybe one of them might want that."

The thought of those who didn't make it home led Danny to say: "We left the heroes over there, those people who died for our country. They're the heroes."

His wife reminded him of the reception during the Honor Flight. "There were a lot of heroes that were welcomed back Saturday. They got a heroes' welcome," she said.

Danny responded, "Well, I guess we were heroes too, but when you give your life for your country, I think that's ..."

"That's the ultimate sacrifice?" Vicki offered.

"Yes," he responded.

While Danny was away on his trip, Vicki Hall joined the other waiting wives in taking a tour of Frankfort and the surrounding area. Danny and Vicki said this was only the second time this service had been offered, but believed the organizers planned on it to be a re-occurring event.

Vicki said her trip included a visit to Frankfort's own Vietnam Memorial as well as the Old Governor's Mansion, with their tour guide being Martha Layne Collins' son.

She also saw the Capitol building, Henry Clay's home, and then visited the Kentucky Castle in Versailles.

Both Danny and Vicki said they wanted to get the word out to other veterans about Honor Flight.

"It's definitely worth the trip to go, and any veteran that's not been on it, I would recommend it," Danny Hall said.

Hall flew with Honor Flight Kentucky out of Winchester. Once he signed up, he said it took more than a year to be assigned to a flight.

Honor Flight Kentucky can be found at honorflightky.org.

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