Earlier last month, 72 South Florida veterans visited Washington D.C. through the Honor Flight South Florida Program. The veterans traveled from Miami to D.C. and received a tour of war memorials and other significant military sites.
Among them was Charles Green. Green was one of the ten members from the VFW Post 8195 who had the opportunity to travel and visit the nation’s capital.
Green is an Army veteran who served from 1969 – 1971 and spent eleven months in Vietnam.
“In the army, I was Eleven Bravo which is infantry,” explained Green. “After a couple of months in the service, I became the point man in my group.”
This meant Green was the first man in front of a patrol and the most vulnerable. Green served in one of the most dangerous roles while in Vietnam.
After his time in the service, Green decided to join his local VFW and fellow veterans. It was there he learned of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
“I realized I had shut myself down and put everything in the back of my brain,” said Green. “I didn’t remember anything. I realized too that happened to a lot of other people. They just didn’t remember a lot of things.”
Through this realization and the encouragement of those close to Green, he started seeing a counselor. Green participated in sessions and began to recall what he had buried in his subconscious. He was able to sit down and talk with his fellow veterans about different things that happened to them during their military service.
“In a group setting, we understood them, and they understood us,” explained Green.
The same feeling of connection and comradery was shared among the veterans during their honor flight.
“The most enjoyable thing was to be able to take a trip with fellows that you worked with,” shared Green. “You care for them, and they care for you.”
It is the same spirit that the Glades community shares not only for its veterans but for all residents of the area.
Green’s gratitude and appreciation were overflowing for the time and thought put into the Honor Flight.
One of his most memorable moments was during a “mail call” on the flight. Reminiscent of “mail call” in the military, Green received mail from loved ones.
Green was overwhelmed with notes and letters. He received letters of gratitude from family and friends from the Glades, people from the Belle Glade Water Department and elementary and middle school students thanking Green for his bravery and service.
But his favorite part was the arrival at Miami International. Not only were the veterans greeted by uniformed military members, but the families of those veterans were also lined up to celebrate their return.
Unbeknownst to Green, his family was all dressed in matching shirts with his face on them. Even his chaperone was in on the surprise, sneaking off to change into a matching t-shirt. Green recalled them being the loudest family in the whole airport.
“My family did such a good job of cheering, they wanted to give them a job for the next honor flight,” exclaimed Green.
The energy was tangible in the airport that evening. So much so, Green and his family decided to stay and cheer on every other soldier who came through.
“It was absolutely wonderful to get a chance to travel to Washington D.C. and visit these places we wouldn’t normally have seen,” remarked Green. “This experience was unbelievable.”