A local Honor Flight organization which typically takes fast-disappearing World War II veterans to see memorials in Washington D.C. was, for the first time, taking a Vietnam veteran along on Thursday.
WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports Jim Pudlas saw the worst in Vietnam, treating the wounded as a combat medic.
He’s always wanted to see the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall in Washington, D.C.
Honor Flight McHenry president Randy Granath said it was a letter from Pudlas’ daughter that made it happen.
“It was a very nice letter seeing if there was any possible way that our organization could make this happen for her dad,” Granath said.
Pudlas has terminal cancer, and said it’s an honor to be on the trip with other veterans.
“When I was in Vietnam, I was a combat medic with a platoon, and there’s names on that wall that I’m going to recognize,” he said. “That’s going to be the hard part, is dealing with that. But it’s part of my bucket list.”
Pudlas, 70, said some of the names on the wall were fellow soldiers who he couldn’t save, and he said he still carries that with him.
“I’m probably going to have a hard time dealing with some. You know, there’s a couple of names on there that are good buddies of mine, and unfortunately as a medic, there was just nothing I could do for them,” he said.
Granath knows very how important it is for Vietnam veterans like Pudlas to see the memorial wall engraved with the names of more than 58,000 military personnel who died of wounds they suffered in the war, or are still considered missing in action.
“It’s very emotional, it’s a healing time, it’s a time that they need to reflect, and it’s a very moving thing,” he said.