CHARLOTTE, NC (FOX 46 WJZY) - Nearly 40 years after serving in Vietnam, two veterans vividly remember the sights and sounds they experienced.
Brothers Chester and Sidney Harmon became brothers in arms when both deployed to Vietnam. Sidney was drafted, Chester volunteered.
“They told me that I was not eligible to go to Vietnam because I had a relative in Vietnam which was Sidney," Chester said.
But Chester insisted on going, and Sidney refused to leave.
“I don’t think I could have lived with myself if I hadn’t. I would have felt like a deserter. It’s just the way I felt and I had to go. I wanted to go,” said Chester.
"I hated to leave my friends and uh so I, I sent em a letter back and told em, they’d have to put up with both of us because I was stayin’," Sidney said.
The two wrote letters detailing their days, the good and the bad. Sidney's work in ammunitions meant constant attacks, so he poured his heart out to Chester.
But to his mother, his letters stayed upbeat.
“I didn’t tell her none of this. I didn’t want her to worry, I just told her to keep praying for me. And uh, thankfully she did,” said Sidney.
He believes her prayers kept him alive when others were cut down in an ambush.
“We heard some mortar rounds and rockets so I took off as fast I could to the bunker. And the guy behind me didn’t make it. He was hit and that was one of the men. He had just got back from Hawaii with his wife on R&R and he died that night."
It’s a memory that haunts him. The scars of war are still fresh for him and the Honor Flight could help heal them.
“That’s actually why I want to see the wall," Sidney said.
Seeing that simple black wall, etched with the names of 58,195, is emotional. Much has changed since they came home. Back then, people were angry, but now, they're honoring the veterans the way they deserve.
“They come to my table and want to shake my hand. And say thank you for your service. Didn’t used to be that way.”
And on the Honor Flight alongside men who know what they went through. They’ll hear something else.
“They’re saying what we want to hear that we couldn’t hear 40 years ago.”