Darwin Cundy, Iroquois, was among the 121 Vietnam veterans who went on the Midwest Honor Flight to Washington, D.C., on Oct. 9. This flight, the Clifford and LaVonne Graese Foundation Mission 8, was the first honor flight to include only Vietnam veterans.
The group flew out of Sioux Falls early that Saturday morning and visited many war memorials including Iwo Jima Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery – The Changing of the Guard Ceremony, Women in Military Service for America Memorial, Air Force Memorial, US Navy Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial.
Later that same day, they flew back into Sioux Falls, where their buses were escorted from the airport by the Patriot Guard to a welcome home celebration at the Sioux Falls Arena.
Darwin Cundy was drafted in March of 1969 at 20-years-old. He spent five months in Fort Polk, La., for basic training and advanced infantry training. From there, he went to Fort Ord, Calif., for a week and a half. Then, he was flown to Ben Haa, Vietnam and sent to the 199th Infantry Brigade. After 11 months in the jungles of Vietnam, he returned to Fort Carson, Colo., and was honorably discharged in March of 1971.
Cundy married Sandy Zeeck on Dec. 4, 1971. They have three grown children, Tim Cundy from Marshall, Minn., Brian (Jill) Cundy and Holly Cundy all from Iroquois. They also have two granddaughters. Natalie is an 8th grader and Madelyn is a 5th grader both at Iroquois Elementary School. The family was present at the Sioux Falls Arena waving their flags and holding their handmade posters high welcoming home Cundy and the rest of the vets.
The 199th Infantry Brigade held a 40th Anniversary Reunion in Houston, Texas, in May of 2004. During the reunion, 23 veterans from across the country came together in comradery decades after their time together in the jungle.
“It was amazing to watch the men after 40 years still recognize each other like it was yesterday,” stated Cundy’s wife, Sandy.
The Midwest Honor Flight is a non-profit, 100% volunteer organization in northwest Iowa, South Dakota and southwest Minnesota dedicated to providing veterans with honor, respect and closure with an all-expense paid trip to our nation’s capital. Their mission is to transport America’s veterans to Washington, D.C., to visit those memorials dedicated to honor the service and sacrifices of themselves and to fellow veterans.
“We can’t all be HEROES … Some of us have to stand on the curb and clap as they walk by.” – Will Rogers
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