Vietnam veteran excited about trip to D.C.

Published 12:02am Friday, May 17, 2013

Vietnam veteran Sammy Avant is excited about Sunday’s Covington Region Honor Flight trip to Washington, D.C., he said Wednesday.

Avant, a 1963 Opp High School graduate, said the trip is something he’s wanted to do for a while.

“I’ve been thinking about it for long time,” he said through teary-eyes. “I had a lot of good friends who died over there and I want to look at their names.”

Avant said he joined the U.S. Army out of high school and served for three years – one of which was in Pleiku in the highlands in Vietnam.

“I flew all over hunting the enemy,” he said.

Avant also was stationed at Ft. Hood, Texas, Ft. Benning, Ga., and Ft. Campbell, Ky.

“I was in the 21st Infantry in Ft. Hood in recon,” he said. “Then I was airborne at Ft. Benning. That’s where I got my airborne wings. I also went to Ft. Campbell, and then I was in the 25th Infantry, 3rd Brigade in Vietnam.”

Avant was released from his duties in the Army at a sergeant, he returned to Opp, where he worked for 10 years for the Opp Farmer’s Co-Op, then worked “offshore” for six years, and helped build a chip mill, where he worked for 10 years.

“Now, I’m retired and disabled,” he said. “I have post traumatic stress disorder.”

Avant said his PTSD is caused from his time in Vietnam.

He also spends his time volunteering at Crossover.

On Sunday, Avant will join 30 other veterans as a participant of the program that takes veterans, free of charge, to Washington, D.C., for the day, where they will visit sites such as the World War II memorial, Arlington National Cemetery and the Korean and Vietnam memorials.

Greg White of the CRHF said Thursday that the community is invited to welcome the group back.

The group will return to the Walmart parking lot around 12 a.m.

“These guys and ladies will have been up since just after midnight the night before, so I think the rest of us should be able to stay up to welcome the home,” he said. “It is always a nice ending on a great day for them.”

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