HAZEL GREEN, Ky. (LEX 18) — On Saturday, 68 Kentucky veterans will travel to Washington D.C. for Kentucky Honor Flight, an all-expenses-paid trip for veterans to visit their respective memorials.
Made possible by Toyota, the trip will focus on Vietnam War and Korean War veterans. For one veteran, the opportunity is a special one.
“This honor flight, I’m really looking forward to it, and I know it’s probably gonna get emotional,” said veteran Joe Bowen.
Bowen served in the Air Force at Vandenberg Air Force Base during Vietnam. He says his experience was different than most.
“I did a lot of experimenting with the missiles and I was in a photo squadron,” explained Bowen. “We photographed the missile activity at Vandenburg, and we received the footage that came out of Vietnam, so I handled the footage in the laboratories of the war in Vietnam, but I stayed behind a desk for four years.”
Even on American soil, Bowen experienced pushback for his involvement in the war.
“I think a lot of military men, especially Vietnam, have not been recognized for what they have done, and a whole lot, 68,000 gave their lives for this freedom.”
If anyone should be recognized, Bowen said it’s two men named Harry and Edward.
“On Saturday, I’m gonna go with my brother who has some serious medical problems and my brother-in-law, who calls me his “wingman”…he has stage four cancer.”
When Honor Flight invited Bowen to join, they had also invited his brother. Then, Bowen vouched for one more to come.
“I called them and I said I have a brother-in-law who’s in trouble health wise because of Vietnam, and I’d like for him to be included. They called me back a few days later and said, ‘He’s going with you.’”
These men won’t be the only brothers on the flight because all veterans whether they fought overseas or here at home are part of a brotherhood.
“These are brothers forever, even after we leave,” said Bowen. “That’s an incredible experience to know that you have that with a lot of people. It's not a small group, it’s millions, and we need to be taking care of our soldiers.”
To further honor these veterans, the community is invited to welcome them home from their Honor Flight. The group will return to Blue Grass Airport by 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.