FRESNO – ValleyPBS is premiering “Homecoming” at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, June 30. The 30-minute documentary features interviews with local Vietnam War veterans who traveled to Washington D.C. as part of the Central Valley Honor Flight.
This was the first Central Valley Honor Flight made up entirely of Vietnam War veterans. The three-day trip took place in May and a ValleyPBS film crew traveled alongside, capturing the veterans’ experience.
Production Manager Sarah Soghomonian said ValleyPBS is committed to telling the veterans’ stories of service and is honored to be a voice for members of our local military community.
“Traveling with the Central Valley Honor Flight was an experience of a lifetime.”
The documentary features interviews with Vietnam veterans from Fresno, Sanger, Selma, Dinuba and Mariposa. Each of the Veterans in the film talks openly about their Vietnam experience and share the impact it had on their lives.
“Many veterans keep the emotions of their war experience bottled up inside,” Soghomonian said. “Visiting the Vietnam Memorial brought the opportunity to speak out about what they witnessed, which, for some, allowed healing.”
The documentary captures the Veterans’ experience on the Central Valley Honor Flight. They visited military and war memorials, including The Vietnam Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery.
Funding for “Homecoming” was provided by the Clovis Veterans Memorial District.
The documentary will rebroadcast at 7:30 p.m. July 4, prior to “A Capitol Fourth” on ValleyPBS.
Local American Legion Post 12 member Isaias ‘Ike’ Talamantes just returned from taking that Central Valley Honor Flight May 16.
He had served in the U.S. Marines in 1970 and recalls that the return home made him feel dejected rather than respected.
But some 50 years later, as he and fellow veterans on the Central Valley Honor Flight toured national monuments in Washington, D.C., school children would walk up and thank him for his service. It was a ‘thank you’ that may have taken years, he said, but still healed some of that decades-old hurt.
Traveling with the other Vietnam vets was a chance to swap stories, bond over the sacrifices and continue healing.
“[The Central Valley Honor Flight] was very emotional and very moving for me,” Talamantes said of the trip. “It was an unpopular war. When the veterans came back, they were called names, or spit on. So for a long time, we didn’t talk about it. We kept to ourselves and it was hard on us. In Washington D.C., there were kids and adults from different states on tour and they’d come up and say, ‘Thank you for your service.’ That means a lot when you hear that. Hearing ‘thank you’ hits you right in the heart.”