WASHINGTON, D.C. (KELO) — Daniel M. Weber left Vietnam on Oct. 12, 1970.
The then-Fulton, South Dakota, native had been serving as a soldier in a mechanized infantry unit in the Vietnam War.
“To this day, I still can see the look of sheer terror on my Mother’s face as I looked out of the airplane window and saw her standing by the departure gate when I left home in August 1969… flying to Vietnam,” Weber said in an email after the trip. “Only last week when discussing [Midwest Honor Flight Mission 6] with my sister did she tell me how difficult my absence was on my Father…no one told me that before.”
Weber would return to the United States a little more than a year later.
“It was exciting. About like today flying out here. I mean as soon as we got the plane off the ground, a lot of cheers and all that good stuff. Then everybody slept until we touched down and the cry was ‘Put the wheels down; let’s go,'” Weber recalled of his flight to Seattle from Vietnam.
Now, 49 years later to the day, Weber is aboard Midwest Honor Flight Mission 6. Not at a “veteran” though. He went as a guardian.
“Well, I’m not about to take a seat for a vet, because I’ve been out there half a dozen times and seen most of the memorials and I’ve been through that process,” Weber said.
The Sioux Falls man was assigned three veterans throughout the day-long trip in Washington, D.C.
Weber first heard about the trip from Midwest Honor Flight board member Chris Van Beek at the Sioux Falls Air Show. She noticed his Vietnam Veterans baseball cap and explained the upcoming all-Vietnam veteran Honor Flight.
Weber wanted to donate to allow a veteran to fly on the upcoming flights. That’s when Van Beek told him about the guardian program.
Guardians are a big part of an Honor Flight. They pay their way to go on the flight and work with assigned veterans from the night before departure until they’re safe at home in Sioux Falls.
Weber emailed some thoughts on the trip to his family on Sunday. He also shared them with KELOLAND News.
“Because we had about an inch of fresh snow yesterday, I had to clear off my truck before I could leave the parking lot,” Weber wrote. “As I started to brush off the snow, a man…his wife…and their three kids suddenly appeared and began to brush off the snow with their arms/hands…my entire truck was cleared in less than a minute. What an incredible finish to an 18 hour non-stop day filled with people that showed how they appreciate veterans.”
Watch the full story about Weber in the video player above.
KELOLAND News will have more stories from Midwest Honor Flight Mission 6 throughout the week.