American Legion Riders honor South Bend Vietnam Navy Vet
When vets came home from the Vietnam War, they never truly received a warm welcome. On Sunday, that changed for one South Bend vet.
Navy Veteran Flonnie Dees served in Vietnam from 1968 to 1970 and finally got the welcome home he deserves.
"It's been 47 years since this guy's been welcomed home in a proper way," said Mike Wells of Veterans Appreciated Inc. "This is a proper way, this is a closure for him and his family."
Riders from the American Legion Post 357 and NewsCenter 16's Jen Cardone gathered to surprise a special Vietnam Vet.
"The whole neighborhood's going to hear the rumble, he's going to hear it long before he sees it," Wells said.
The Legion riders drove together in a pack toward Dees' son's home in Osceola.
"It's important to thank [veterans] for their service," Wells said. "It's important to thank them for doing what they do for their country."
Dees had no idea this surprise was coming Sunday afternoon.
"Vietnam Vets, they didn't get the recognition they deserve and I don't think my dad got the recognition he deserves," said Michael Dees, his son. "This is just one way to say thank you for that service."
"A lot of these guys get choked up, I get choked up," said Wells. "It's something really special, something that comes straight from the heart."
"They spit on you when you got home, they didn't care," Flonnie Dees said.
But that's no longer the case. Legion riders all took a turn giving Dees a hug and proper thank you.
He was speechless as he was presented with a flag, certificate an plaque for his service.
"What they did, just to recognize that we did something," Dees said. "This is super, I mean they don't know me, you know?"
The plan for this surprise has been in the works for eight months now.
Veterans Appreciated, Inc. puts on these veteran honor ceremonies. It's a nonprofit affiliated with the American Legion Riders Post 357.
Each veteran they honor costs about 200 dollars and they typically honor about half a dozen vets each year.
If you'd like to donate to the cause, visit any First Source Bank and say you want to donate to the Veterans Appreciation Fund.