SGT Joe Ewert served in Vietnam in 1969 with the 11th infantry “Americal Division”.

These days Joe is working with the Honor Flight Program, which is dedicated to transporting as many US veterans as possible to see the memorials of the respective war(s) they fought in Washington, DC, at no cost to the veterans.

We are going to discuss Honor Flight as well as how you can apply and more.

TRANSCRIPT – Transcript and Subtitles are generated automatically by YouTube and may contain errors.

good evening vietnam how you doing
live from lc bunker this is veterans
live show
i’m your host ronnie emers i serve with
honor first airborne division of vietnam
from december 67 to december 68.
tonight’s guest is sergeant joe yort
from south florida joe served in vietnam
in 1969 with the 11th
infantry the america division now he’s
working with the honor flight program
unbelievable which flies veterans to dc
each year for a free weekend vacation to
visit sites and memorials
amongst other things we’re going to
discuss the honor flight as well
as you can apply to go and all that good
stuff even to help
we will speak to sergeant joe you in a
few moments but first i’d like to let
you know that the program is brought to
you by
the fall never forgotten book a tribute
the veterans in vietnam who never made
it home
go to the fall page
for more information
or to purchase your copy now we’re going
to go to the headlines of the time
okay headlines being on veteran
headlines for the week of march
10th 2021
the wallet heals will open its season in
new bern north carolina on april 8th
to april 11th don’t forget that this is
like a
80 replica of the vietnam wall
so if you’re a newborn area you may want
to stop by go to
for more information that’s
for more information for those who don’t
know the wall of heals is a
scale replica of the vietnam veterans
memorial in dc
now we’re going to go to the timeline
okay this date in the vietnam war march
10 1968
the battle of lima site 85 concluding
the 11th
with after the 10th of march with the
largest single ground combat loss of the
united states air force members
12 during the vietnam war also called
the battle of foo fight tea
which was fought as part of the military
military campaign
raised during the vietnam endlession
civil war by the nba the number one song
on march 10 1968 was
sitting on the dock of the bay by otis
this date in the vietnam war on march 10
the us army accuses captain ernest
and four other soldiers committing
crimes at the miele
massacre in songmai village in march of
the number one song on march 10th of
1970 was bridge over troubled water
by simon and garfunkel and how
appropriate was that song
let’s go to the photo segment
okay first photo oh that’s my guys
that’s uh that’s us that’s my squad
leader sergeant philip creck from
utah we’re boarding the c-130s
uh in benoit
if it was stationed at kuchi for a while
for about a month
heading up to fubai to get up by crank
tree in cranktri province
just before ted they knew it was
happening they knew it
okay next picture from louis collinos
rock valley republic of korea of
where the korean army was based
originally known as camp thunderbolt in
it was taken over by the korea tiger
the koreans trained in taekwondo and
they came to our unit
that’s a serious situation there
these guys are true crazy soldiers
next picture
okay david yuzak thank you for sending
this in
greenberg captain richard flaherty stood
foot nine inches tall and 97 pounds
he didn’t meet the military’s size and
requirements and needed a congressional
just to join the army but god bless that
guy man he had the heart and the soul to
join and
serve his country next question
sorry next picture paul erickson
when you are hungry you will eat almost
mountain yard boys cooking a small rat
over some sea rations
wow that’s from paul erickson that’s
see that frag on your chest there paul
interesting uh
picture there okay next picture
jim ross i did a lot of thinking of
vietnam behind my 50 caliber
but here all i was thinking was ambush
it wasn’t exactly cruising the strip on
saturday night
if you get us a chance if you get a
chance to ask us why
you thought it might have been an ambush
i think those two apcs in front of you
might have been a little close together
but uh tell me why did you have the
ambushes happening before that or
whatever okay next
picture this photo is one of my first in
in the cariboo and around from saigon to
my duty station with the 13th aviation
delta battalion in kanto this was early
65 in the early days
the caribou is a plane and that’s the
oh the back of the plane had a drop down
and that’s matt can you put that picture
back up
see that’s like that was like a tailgate
that dropped down
and that’s why they’re they’re sitting
in there like they are that bright light
is there okay next picture
up there you go we’re going to bring our
oh ho chi minh trail gonna bring joe in
pretty soon
there you go ho chi minh trail relied
the north vietnamese relied heavily on
the ho chi minh trail for transport
their troops and supplies into south
the trail of tangled camouflage
footpaths dirt roads and river crossings
covered a 6 000
mile network reaching 300 miles
southward through cambodia into south
okay so i guess we’re going to bring joe
eward in how you doing from south
good evening i’m fine ron thanks for
having me
welcome aboard my man thank you you have
quite an interesting story why don’t you
tell us a little bit about your
in the military okay well i was
uh drafted into the army after being out
of college for about seven or eight
and uh i went to fort dix for uh basic
fort dix new jersey enjoyed spending
time in those beautiful 1940-ish vintage
and i um finished
uh basic training in fort dix
and of course we all got our assignments
where everybody was going it was a very
anxious time
and i was assigned advance infantry
training which didn’t make me very happy
at the moment
but i went through advanced infantry
training at fort dix
um graduated with honors i guess
i ended up taking my my leave prior to
being deployed i got my orders for
um i ended up with a mos of 11c
which is a mortar mortarman 11b as most
of your viewers know
we’re infantry leg units uh more
mortar man we basically accompanied the
rifle platoons as the
uh addition to the company compliment
i um took my leave and i partied a
little bit
and i was not honestly looking forward
to going to vietnam but
it was my duty and i went and i boarded
a a lovely flying tiger dc-8 at mcguire
air force base in new jersey
and i think it feels like we flew
forever um
and uh ended up uh arriving in uh saigon
at tanzanud air force base
and processed in and i thought to myself
well this is pretty nice it’s very
modern we have like air conditioning and
things like that
and uh then they said well don’t just
relax because it’s gonna change a little
so um i then flew to uh the americal
division base camp in july
uh july was on the beach it was a
beautiful beach they had a uso club
uh nice barracks flushing toilets and
all that great stuff
i’m thinking well this isn’t bad hey
well you’re gonna be here a few days and
then they sent me down to uh
the 11th infantry brigade uh base camp
headquarters which was
lz bronco and again it was getting a
little more rustic but still not bad
and i spent a few days there and they
were outfitting me with my equipment
which seemed to me to weigh about a
thousand pounds by the time i put it all
and uh i ended up they sent me out to
hill 411 now that was getting very
but nothing compared to where i ended up
next after a few days there
i joined my company out in the middle of
nowhere in the jungles in the highlands
down there
and i always remember that when the
chopper landed
i thought how nice everybody is waving
at me doing this they’re waving at me
welcoming me
no they were telling me to get down
because they were shooting at the
helicopter and i said okay
so now the fun is over and they got the
yeah you got the picture bro there you
go so um
i spent about nine months in the bush
and uh
we basically just were combat assaulting
hither and yawn trying to find the enemy
our company had a reasonable amount of
contact but we didn’t have
some of the real major battles that
others had so i feel
lucky in that aspect um had a great
bunch of guys and we took care of each
it was an interesting time because uh
of the guys in the platoon and the
entire company
were draftees and draftees
as you may or may not know probably
don’t react to
uh the orders and the commands as well
as people that are career
uh officers and enlisted men so uh there
was a lot of questioning of why
things were happening and being done in
certain ways
and uh this drove the lifers crazy
because they weren’t used to people
asking why
so it was an interesting time the war
winding down at that point um you
couldn’t tell by
the people that were shooting at us but
supposedly the war was winding down
in in the late 69 and early 70s but
we continued there and i spent nine
months and i finally
politicked my way back to be company
clerk for the last three months in
country which was a lot cushier than my
nine months
uh carrying uh all this equipment around
yeah the uh it’s interesting point about
the attitude
and uh how the
well being in an airborne outfit we were
a little more gung-ho we wanted to go we
were all volunteers
and we had guys who would drop an ammo
on the trail
like mortar rounds and oh
didn’t like that you know it came to be
like uh
payback sooner or later some of the vc
or nva would pick that stuff
up and the next day or two we’d be
walking across those
81 millimeters and uh not having a good
time with it
so i understand where attitude and
uh how would you say uh not only getting
short but not wanting to be there and
stuff like that which uh complicated
matters in the
emotional sense and we had to like dig
in their back pockets for a little more
i think it did but i think that it’s
also interesting how
the draftees stepped up to the the
challenge when it was time you would
think oh absolutely oh i’m not
i’m not you know people are from i came
with a small brush
i painted with a small brush very small
brush no and
i i i i do agree it was it was a unique
time towards the end of the conflict
that people were changing their attitude
the prosecution of the war and things
like that but but we we did what we had
to do everybody did their job
and uh you know we appreciate
those that didn’t make it home and sort
of honor everybody
all the veterans that have given so much
um it’s hard to it’s hard to put into
what this country owes them great point
about that word honor
because now you’re involved with the
honor flight
program so please tell us a little bit
about that
i’m quite sure our audience knows
someone about it but tell us more about
i will be happy to i am involved with
the south florida chapter or hub
of honor flight um so i think it’ll be
appropriate to give a little background
on how
honor flight came to be it’s a very
interesting organization i’ve been
involved for about two years now and uh
with the flow
with the south florida hub which is one
of the bigger hubs in the country
but uh honor flight the the network
itself was formed
in 2005 by a gentleman named earl
morse and earl was a retired air force
a physician’s assistant and also a
private pilot
and um he was involved
in putting together the first group of
world war ii veterans
to try to take them to washington to see
the new
uh world war ii memorial which had just
opened in 2004
and their first honor flight was
five or six private planes that flew
to washington with these guys
and it was such an exciting event
and people were so happy to get that
experience that this
metamorphosis into an entire
and pretty soon there were hubs all over
the country
flying veterans to washington
that was amazing um the first
flight they took 12 veterans and
uh in uh in 2019
we took 23 000 plus veterans to
yeah numbers are pretty impressive um
wow what’s going on right now as you can
see by the numbers on the screen is that
the uh number of vietnam veterans is
increasing obviously because
sadly we’re losing world war ii and
korean veterans
each day as we as we age so the
um organization is continuing
we fly our veterans absolutely free i
think that’s very important people
realize that there’s no out-of-pocket
costs now depending on
where you’re located which hub and where
you’re flying from
you can either do a one-day trip which
we do from south florida
in south florida we charter an entire
airbus plane from fort lauderdale
and we take the entire plane and it’s a
15-hour day it’s a crazy wild day
and from other places that are farther
away they actually come into washington
and spend one or two nights
so each hub in the honor flight
operates independently from the other
hub we all
share the same basic philosophy and the
program but we tweak it a little bit for
the locations
and how we do that so uh there’s no
charge to the veteran
every veteran is accompanied by a
guardian it can be a
family member or a friend or if they
don’t have a guardian to go with them
we send one we’ll find a guardian the
guardians actually
pay a fee in most cases to accompany the
sure um and they’re there for their
assistance and care and our veterans
we’ve had
we had a hundred year old female marine
on our our last flight that we did in
so it’s incredible these guys and gals
spend the entire day in immersed
in the recognition of their service and
it’s fantastic
let me ask you a question i’ve been down
here for the last 30 years or so
every well except this last time either
both veterans and memorial day or one or
the other
and uh the buses that line up they come
and they normally park by the uh must be
some coordinating going on here because
you guys got the planes
you got the buses and then you got to
get the guys to the memorials yeah
memorial the
world war ii memorial the vietnam
memorial memorial
it’s like amazing how
you know one of the things and we were
talking a little bit before the show
one of the things that uh when i first
got involved
i went to the first meeting volunteer
meeting we have about a
hundred volunteers in the south florida
and uh so i went to the first volunteer
and i wanted to do something and join
and they they made me chairman of the
fundraising committee
and and that’s fine i get involved a lot
with the fundraising events when we used
to be able to do that
but one thing that was astonishing to me
was the number of moving parts that were
involved in this
seemingly just one day trip to
how much more involved it would be when
they’re overnighting for a couple days
we basically have 30 people involved in
the planning
of a single day event we do about four
flights a year
four to five we charter a plane each
we basically do spring and fall because
of weather issues
but there are issues like we carry a
doctor on board
our uh one of our board members is
retired from the va a doctor phil
he accompanies every flight we carry two
we carry what we call honor chairs which
are wheelchairs on the plane
for each veteran can use one if they
need to
but we have them available just the
coordination of the buses
and then that’s just for one flight our
sometimes on a given saturday there will
be four or five
other honor flight groups in town we
call that a
super saturday um it’s very challenging
and making sure everybody gets back on
the right bus
but we carry uh 50 60 veterans 50 or 60
uh guardians and the rest staff people
we have bus
captains we have coordinators plus we
have huge numbers of people
just processing them in the at the
airport uh fort lauderdale airport has
been very supportive of us
we also get the u.s forest service
police give us escorts the buses because
i’m sure you have been to washington a
lot the traffic is awful
even on a saturday so we get police
and all this requires intense
coordination so yeah
it’s amazing and and not a penny
there’s not a paid staff member anywhere
in any other volunteer hubs
right now one thing one thing i noticed
uh was that
i’ve seen these guys come off the buses
because like where thunder alley is
where we
we set up our book shop and our tent and
uh to sell our books and our flags
is quite away from the rest uh the
concession stands and the
toilets so do we to go way over there
that that’s where the buses unload on
the other side of the
lincoln memorial these guys get off the
off the bus and it’s like
it’s like their first christmas or
something like that you know
they’re like google-eyed he’s like wow
like what’s going on here
you gotta like it’s watching kids on
christmas day open presents you’re
absolutely correct
it’s amazing no matter how many times
our attendees the guys and the gals that
fly with us as veterans
no matter how many times they look at
the videos and read the information
they’re still stunned by the magnitude
and the experience
and then when you get there we sort of
branch off we go through we do the world
ii the korea and the vietnam wall so we
do all the monuments
we have we go to a changing we have a
private uh area
at the changing of the guard ceremony
which is quite dramatic
and then we go uh we do some touring of
so it’s it’s just an amazing day and
you’re right to see the expression on
these folks faces
they don’t expect it to be as dramatic
and i know a lot of
your viewers probably have been to
washington been to the monuments
perhaps been to the wall multiple times
but i will tell you and i have done that
it’s a completely different day uh
because you’re in the
camarader camaraderie of 60 70
brothers and sisters at arms and most of
them are older
we’re i mean world war ii guys were like
in their 90s
the korean guys in the 80s the
we’re in our 60s and 70s it’s like we
are experiencing
you know unfortunately we’re losing a
lot of the world war ii veterans every
day we use more
and uh it is just a matter of the circle
of life i guess
to uh you know put a uh uh
a spin on it but uh yeah we’re seeing
more and more vietnam
guys coming guys and gals coming now
which is great
and then someday in the near future next
so many years
we’ll end up with guys from iraq and
iran and the various conflicts so
this is an ongoing thing and uh you know
be doing this forever okay joe we’re
gonna run a video now
five minute video about the whole
program yeah
the memorial is breathtaking
in my mind the memorial represents
freedom for the world
to this day all of the pacific is free
all of europe is free
and thank god america is free
honor flight provides at no cost to the
the opportunity to see the memorial that
the american people have built on our
national mall
and i think that there’s probably no
better organization
out there today that can provide
something to somebody
for nothing
if anyone wants to see the importance of
honor flight
look into the veterans eyes and how they
tear up
when they’re brought here
you guys ready to go yeah ready to go
we’d like to thank each and every one of
you it’s truly a privilege to serve you
yesterday december
7th 1941
a date which will live in
when they walk into that memorial and
they see
that their friends will never be
that the sacrifice that they paid will
always be cherished
always revered always honored by this
they’re taken back by them
this is their last hurrah they don’t
have reunions anymore
most of their comrades and arms have all
passed away
quite often they are the sole survivors
of that
tank crew or that ship or that air crew
bringing them into their memorial they
come there
representing all of their friends
just have to remember where so many
comrades are laying out there yet
just one of these things you know before
i die i wanted to see it
now i go home and if i croak so what i
did it
i’m just sorry my wife
couldn’t be here
she died about six months ago
the best program i’ve ever been
associated with
you know we’re all in the same
fraternity if it hadn’t been
for these guys i don’t know where we’d
today or what language would speak i say
about the terrorists al qaeda
if it weren’t for these guys we wouldn’t
have to worry about terrorists today
we’d already be occupied
we’d already be a different country so
we are
a lot
there are families people call up and
i gotta get myself a tissue okay
that’s that’s crazy i’ve been there you
go through a lot of boxes
we go through a lot of boxes of kleenex
on those yeah
now though for the future well um it’s
very important
yeah um obviously with kovid uh
the national network has mandated that
we cease all flights until further
um we’re kind of on a month-by-month
um we will not probably fly in 2021
at all um it’s unlikely
although things could change rapidly and
we have
all of our people in the south florida
hub on the list
that were due to fly in 2020 we then
will then put them on the flights they
get priority to go in 2021
and of course if we don’t fly in 2021
move over to 2022. so um
at the moment none of the hubs are
flying and that’s probably
the right decision uh again that’s
subject to change so we do
try to keep in contact with the guys and
the gals that were due to fly with us
so that they don’t uh get to
get the feeling that we’re we’ve
forgotten them
so we do a lot of things locally i’m not
sure what the other hubs do
but i know some of them do what we do
which is to
recognize them in these parades that we
oh local grades like in east like town
yes what we do is um
that we have a pretty good database of
those who are on the list to fly with us
right so what we do is we’ll put
together a parade in let’s say fort
for all of our veterans who are in fort
lauderdale who could not fly with us
we’re on the list we actually will go
drive by their house it’s all social
we decorate our cars we’ll meet up at a
central place
we often have the local police fire
escorts we have the junior rotc that
goes with us
it’s quite an event we’ll have 20 30 40
cars we
play havoc with the traffic all over
town when we do it but
you know people are happy and they’re
honking their horns
yeah it’s a very um it’s a very good way
to keep
contact with these important men and
who were just waiting now to go on their
and uh we know that it’s an aging group
we hope we can get going as soon as
possible and then as soon as we’re able
we’re starting to fly again there you go
that’s great you know it you know it
you got to be a veteran to appreciate a
veteran more than anybody else
for some reason and it’s got to be down
in here
up here and wherever else it is
everything you do
when you see the flag when you see a
veteran drive by you see a
bumper sticker you see a decal on a
window you know the guy served and
something you know just moves you a
little bit but these guys
especially world war ii guys and the
korean guys and now the vietnam guys are
over 70 just about now it’s their turn
to uh to move on so
what what can we do because how do you
become part of a member of
the honor flight situation well as i
said ronnie it’s it’s a strictly a
volunteer organization
there’s many ways you can get involved
obviously if you are a veteran
and you served in the military including
the coast guard
during any of the conflict periods you
don’t necessarily have to have been
in country you didn’t have to be in
europe or japan or korea or vietnam
during those periods of time and you’re
honorably honorably discharged
you’re eligible for a free honor flight
so if you want to
show me that i mean to help with the on
a flight okay
well i was going to say i want to i want
to make sure that people that are
watching know
where to go the same opportunity
to sign up and then i’ll talk a little
bit about other things they can do but
um the most important thing to remember
is to go to the
website because that has a listing of
all the hubs
so if you want to fly or volunteer or
get involved at all
at the local level so the easiest thing
to do is go to the national
network on the website and then look up
the hubs
which are chapters but they call them
hubs and they have a map of the country
and you can just highlight the map and
it’ll show you where
your hubs are located and they’re all
over the country so
honor honor that’s
the national
network and then as far as
volunteer opportunities each hub is 100
operated so there’s opportunities to
with the uh workings the planning
the meetings the fundraising uh the
airport check-ins
you can go on the flights you can become
a guardian
uh you have to pay to be a guardian but
you can become a guardian
and you don’t have to have a relative
that’s uh that’s going on the flight
you can volunteer to be an ad hoc
guardian and just they’ll assign you
a veteran i went in september of 2019
and my guardian was a 70 excuse me a 93
year old
world war ii veteran who was in okinawa
with the seabees
harvey and we had a delightful time i
was supposed to be taking care of him
but it was i had trouble
that’s why i laughed so there are lots
of opportunities the most important
thing if you want to get involved with
the honor flight local hub
is to reach out to that local
organization go to one of their general
meetings when they happen
our meetings are now being held pretty
much by zoom
because of so distancing but that’s
going to change so when the meetings
start happening again
go to one of the meetings go to one of
the fundraising events
help out um it’s very rewarding i’ll
tell you of all the things
i’ve done in the in the area of charity
and giving back
this has been the most rewarding i’ve
ever done i can imagine
that’s great man well thank you so much
i appreciate it
we’re going to get you a copy of our
book fall never forgotten
right you know memorials in the usa and
that’s that’s supplied by
simplified home loans they give a va
a va or a veteran a uh
benefits of a va home loan all over the
world just
contact them and uh we appreciate it
very much
other than that we’re gonna you have any
other last words to say
well i just want to say to my vietnam
brothers and all the veterans welcome
thank you sir god bless you and welcome
thank you
well we got a little christmas head joe
okay uh do i answer
okay uh basically again go to
uh and look up the connecticut chapter
the closest chapter in connecticut
and uh you will be
put in touch with usually they have
somebody called the volunteer
i know we have one here in south florida
i presume they have one
at the connecticut hub and uh reach out
to them by email by phone
and express your interest and i’m sure
they’ll get back to you we can always
use that
okay anything else man another comment
okay marie so how do you apply if you’re
eligible as a spouse with a deceased
issue can a spouse go in lieu of the
veteran i i think that’s an individual
hub decision i’m pretty sure
in our hub uh
they the actual veteran has to go on the
so i would again i don’t know where uh
marie uh is located but she should check
with her local hub
everybody has a little bit of a
different policy
uh so i can’t make a global answer about
that i do
know in the south florida hub you we
to have the actual veteran uh on the
okay does that veteran have to be well
let me see this question
let me ask you what about the your the
season you can’t go on the on a flight
i have my ticket but they raised the
price i don’t have a hotel month
i yeah i’m not sure i understand
completely the question
uh you can’t go honor for the program in
2021 but they raised the price on me
um i i don’t know again
i don’t know what area maria is from but
i would defer
that question to her local hub that she
was involved
let me ask you a question could marie
have a friend who’s a veteran
and go with that veteran
well she would have to go as a guardian
and again right
that’s what i meant okay so right i have
a feeling
she may have been in line to be a
but i’m not quite sure i can’t quite
make out the exact
problem i think her hub would be
uh the place to go okay thank you robert
for thanks
thank you robert for thanking us
appreciate it thank you appreciate it
next question or
statement or
okay 69 72 christmases and two birthdays
thank you so much
for your service i’m glad to be back
home still going
thank you thank you god thank god so
much someone was looking out for me i
have a wonderful life
friends we know the freedom is what it
cost us
you’re right there david thank you very
much nice statement there appreciate it
thank you david
any other statements or questions matt
okay i guess that’s it thank you very
much we answered everybody’s questions
that was easy joe yeah you they they
probably got the answers
answered the questions answered in the
in the commentary
so no problem thanks so much god bless
and welcome home thank you same to you