The event, which runs through the weekend, is called Operation LZ – short for Landing Zone. Co-chairman Riley Lewis is expecting 10,000 or more Vietnam vets and their families are on their way to North Iowa.
“They’re coming from all over the United States and that’s probably one of the most difficult things in that we don’t know the numbers,” Lewis says. The kickoff event involves hundreds of motorcycle riders escorting a replica of the Vietnam Wall War Memorial into Forest City. Many of the veterans and other visitors will stay on the campgrounds at Winnebago Industries.
“We’ll get what we can in here. It’s for the vets. We’ll be more than happy if we’re overcrowded. We’ll do the best we can because we know they all deserve a real welcome home,” Lewis said. Vietnam veterans received little to no recognition when they returned home 40 years ago due to the unpopularity of the war.
The events this weekend include pancake breakfasts, a ceremony with several speakers, a car show, an air show and rides in Vietnam-era helicopters.
By Dean Borg, Iowa Public Radio