442d Fighter Wing honors Vietnam Veteran

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Missy Sterling

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- “March 29, 1973, the last of our troops left Vietnam. Yet, in one of the war's most profound tragedies, many of these men and women came home to be shunned or neglected -- to face treatment unbefitting their courage and a welcome unworthy of their example. We must never let this happen again. Today, we reaffirm one of our most fundamental obligations: to show all who have worn the uniform of the United States the respect and dignity they deserve, and to honor their sacrifice by serving them as well as they served us.”

Those were the words of President Barak Obama during his Vietnam Veterans Day Proclamation.

Forty-three years after the last troops left Vietnam, retired U.S. Air Force Capt. Kenneth Rogers was honored by the 442d Fighter Wing and Crossroads Hospice at Whiteman Air Force Base.

Rogers has been in hospice care for about two months, said Amy Duff-Dahlsterom, Rogers’ Registered Nurse Case Manager at Crossroads Hospice. Crossroads gives the families in their care the option to plan a perfect day for their loved one under the “Gift of a Day” program.

“It can be as simple as a family dinner or it can be a big trip like this, too,” said Duff-Dahlsterom. “We just ask them, ‘What is your perfect day?’ and we, within budget, try to grant that wish.”

The 442d Wing Staff was more than happy to accommodate this wish and to be able to thank an Airman who came before them.

“We are truly honored to have you here today,” expressed Col. Brian Borgen, 442d Fighter Wing commander. “Thank you for your service alongside the brave men and women who paved the way to freedom for today’s service members to follow.”

Borgen presented Rogers a flag flown aboard an A-10 Thunderbolt II by Col. Greg Eckfeld, the vice wing commander. Crossroads also presented Rogers a certificate from the Commander-in-Chief in commemoration of his service in the Vietnam War.

With his daughter Kim Rogers by his side, the two were overwhelmed with emotion. Kim wiped her eyes and gently patted her father’s eyes with a tissue. She kissed him on the head and hoped he would remember this day.

“The military was a really important part of his life,” said Kim about her father. “He cherishes it dearly. If he had to go back to any part of his life it would be the military.”

The family and hospice team was able to view an A-10, an AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopter, a UH-60 Black Hawk and a B-52 Stratofortress, the aircraft Rogers was a navigator for when he was in uniform.

“He’s very proud of his years of service,” said Kim. “You guys just made his day.”