LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — When Air Force sergeant Victor Peterson and Army Specialist Terry McAllister returned home from their tours of duty in Vietnam 46 years ago, there was nobody waiting for them, and they received no applause.
That changed Monday, when the two childhood friends and brothers in arms returned to find the Patriot Guard, fellow veterans, family, and friends all welcoming them home, following their visit to Vietnam to find answers.
“Vietnam veterans were not respected,” one attendee said. “They weren’t given a homecoming, so we’re here to be part of the family to welcome them home.”
John Gretzinger, who took part in the welcoming party, underwent two tours as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam, and says the benefit of attending the event was mutual.
“It’s healing for me as well,” Gretzinger said. “To be able to say ‘welcome home’ to these guys that never got the proper welcome home back in the day.”
The two veterans returned to the once war-torn country to seek closure for the war, which followed them through the decades, and that has continued to carry weight in their lives.
Peterson and McAllister emerged from the gate to dozens of people, cheering, applauding, and waving American flags.
“It’s kind of overwhelming, actually, because it’s nothing that we got when we came home,” Peterson managed through tears. “Nobody said ‘I love you’. Nobody said ‘thank you’, and this is great.”