Service & Sacrifice: A tribute trip to Vietnam

Nov. 17, 2016: In January, a couple dozen East Tennessee veterans of Vietnam will head back to that country for the first time in 50 years. Also on that trip will be a couple women making the trip for men who can't go.

Aboard an upcoming flight to Vietnam with a couple dozen veterans of that war will be one woman who hasn’t served in the military.

“I am going on this trip to honor my brother and my uncle who were Vietnam veterans,” said Jacqueline Bridgeman. 

Her uncle died years after the war. Bridgeman’s brother is still alive, but he was reluctant to make the trip.

“I know it is totally different from when they were over there but I want to get a feeling of what Vietnam is, or was, to come back and tell my brother, it’s ok,” Bridgeman said.

Also on board will be the widow of an Army veteran making the trip in his honor.

“He volunteered and was underage and had to have his mother sign for him to go in,” said Johnny Shults. She too is an Army veteran, but her husband was wounded by friendly fire in Vietnam as a teenager and lived with the effects of post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury until his death fourteen and-a-half years ago.

“He was hurt so bad and he lived with shrapnel in his brain until the day he died and I think it will help me have some closure even,” Shults said of the trip.

The flight to Vietnam will mark the first time back to that country in 50 years for many of the veterans who signed on for the 10-day tour. 10News was invited to help chronicle their trip and will offer regular updates along the journey in late January 2017. 

(© 2016 WBIR)


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