Vietnam vet gets surprise reunion with platoon buddies during Ve - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Vietnam vet gets surprise reunion with platoon buddies during Veterans Day ceremony

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A Veteran's Day event at Waterfront Park Tuesday included an unforgettable surprise as a veteran was honored by his own platoon members. Vietnam veteran Jim Lundgard is the Louisville man responsible for bringing the Vietnam Memorial to the Waterfront. He didn't know he'd be the one getting the surprise.

Before the Vietnam Memorial re-dedication even got underway, veteran Jim Lundgard had no idea there was a big surprise waiting nearby: five men he served with in the Vietnam War were all flown in for this special day, waiting for the perfect moment to surprise him.

The men include Bryan Swisher of Missouri, Larry Wedemeier of Iowa, Fraz Williams of Colorado, Ken Schoenthal of California, and John Wotring of California.

"I'd like to see the look on his face," said Fraz Williams, one of Lundgard's platoon members. "I can't wait to see it."

"It's been great to see an old comrade and the push he's put on to do all this," added Ken Schoenthal, another of Lundgard's platoon buddies.

For months, Lundgard had been working to make this memorial happen. The original memorial on the Belvedere, which was dedicated in 1983, was removed during renovation of the area. Lundgard has been leading the effort to get a new one. You'll now be able to see a new flagpole, flag, and signage that honor our veterans of the Vietnam War at the base of the Big Four Bridge.

"To recognize Vietnam veterans, which we didn't get the welcome home that other wars got," Lundgard explained. "This is a small part in recognizing Vietnam veterans."

As multiple people spoke at the podium during the memorial event, Lundgard had no idea what was about to happen: an unforgettable surprise from the men he served with, who appeared on stage.

"You have no idea what this means to me," Lundgard said. "It's beyond description."

It's hard not to get emotional when you see the flag raised, the national anthem played and remember those who served our country.

A 21 gun salute helped to conclude the event, along with the playing of Taps.

It even had our veterans in tears.

EARLY TIMES Kentucky Whisky and the Waterfront Development Corporation sponsored the ceremony. EARLY TIMES also found the five platoon members and flew them to Louisville to be part of the event.

Three Medal of Honor recipients also attended the event.

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