Lake of the Ozarks Air Show draws hundreds and celebrates Vietnam veterans

Published: Sep. 12, 2020 at 8:58 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 12, 2020 at 9:24 PM CDT
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CAMDENTON, Mo. (KY3) - All sorts of stunts and tricks filled the skies Saturday in Camdenton as hundreds watched the Lake of the Ozarks Air Show.

Stunt planes twirled through the sky doing somersaults and others flew overhead in tight formation. Old time military fighters swept down saluting our troops.

A big part of the event was to celebrate Vietnam veterans nearly 45 years after the war. Saturday’s air show was a “welcome home" for them.

“It’s just a wonderful feeling," Vietnam veteran John Bohnert said. “That’s why I wanted to come out here today. To experience this and see the wall.”

Several propeller planes flew around the area, and the traveling Vietnam Wall Memorial even made a stop in Camdenton. The wall drew several people, all quietly appreciating the sacrifice that so many made.

For Bohnert, it also gave him a chance to share his experience with close friends.

“We have some friends here today that have never been out here before and we wanted to bring them out,” he said. “I’ve seen it a couple times before, but wanted to come out and see it again. Show [my wife] and show my friends. It’s just something special.”

For families and kids the show was a jaw-dropping experience. But for many vets, it was a humbling one. And the chance to see the memorial wall so close to home brings its own emotion.

”Some of my friends are on it," Vietnam vet Gary Steen said. “It’s kind of sad to see it. Yeah, I seen the one on honor flight, went to D.C.”

Bohnert also visited the capitol on the honor flight, which was a great experience he said.

“It was a great trip and great to see, but it is emotional and brings back a lot of memories,” he said.

His wife also added that it was a healing experience as well.

”It was a greeting they never got before," she said. “It was a wonderful experience."

For many vets after the war, returning home felt almost unwelcome.

“We couldn’t even wear our uniforms," Bohnert said. “Not like it is these days. You weren’t appreciated. Everyone is so much nicer and I think appreciate people for what they went through that.”

Steen said he felt the same way.

“Well when we was coming home we weren’t welcomed home," he said. "They didn’t welcome us.”

But for Vietnam veterans like Bohnert and Steen, events like Saturday’s airshow are a reminder they are appreciated.

On Sunday the event organizers are hosting a “Run for the Fallen” to commemorate those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

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