Meis, Stamp Among Veterans On Vietnam Honor Flight

Two men with local ties to the Elgin area were among more than 500 who flew to Washington, D.C., last week as part of the Vietnam Honor Flight.
Marvin Meis of Elgin and Jerry Stamp of Clearwater boarded a flight to our nation’s capital early Monday morning, June 6. Once there, they visited the Vietnam War Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery and other monuments in the city before returning home to a hero’s welcome at Eppley Airport later that night. Meis served in the Army and Stamp was a member of the Marines.
When the honor flight landed in D.C., there were two lines of people 1.5 blocks long to greet them. One of the first people Meis met in D.C. was Tara Dinslage, a 2007 graduate of PJCC who happens to be the daughter of Brian and Kathy Dinslage. She works at CHI Health Bergan Mercy Medical Center as a medical laboratory scientist. She was there to assist veterans making the trip in wheel chairs. Later, Meis recognized former Elgin resident Bruce Dinslage as one of the veterans on the trip.
Honor flight participants then received a police escort to the Lincoln Memorial.
Meis, making his first trip to our nation’s capital, said Monday night his favorite part of the trip was to visit the Vietnam Wall. The Wall has the name of every man who died in Vietnam inscribed. Meis said he took rubbings of two of names of men he knew who never came home.
On the trip, he joined many whom he served with in the war. One other person he met in D.C. was Vietnam veteran and former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. He described Hagel, a native Nebraskan, as “very gracious” when Meis shook his hand and introduced himself.
Another part of the trip was a visit to Arlington National Cemetery where they saw the changing of the guard at The Tomb of The Unknown Soldier. “I was impressed with the discipline of the guards at the cemetery,” he said. He said the precision was incredible, noting that it takes the soldier six hours just to get ready (shoes, clothing, etc.). Honor flight attendees were allowed into Arlington in buses, something that is strictly prohibited except for rare instances such as the honor flight. Everyone else enters the national cemetery on foot.
Other monuments the delegation visited included the Lincoln Memorial, the World War II Memorial and Air Force Memorial before boarding planes to return to Omaha.
Meis, part of the white delegation, said the “welcome home” the soldiers received was “unbelievable.”
“It was unbelievable the number of people who were on hand to greet the returning veterans.
“It was a big difference from what it was 50 years ago (the welcome home),” he said.
Meis was accompanied to Omaha by his wife Jodine Meis. Their children include Eric and Ben Meis, both of Elgin; Bart Meis of Winside; and Monica McMahon of Omaha.
Trip “Emotional” For Stamp
Stamp’s tie to the community is that he is the father of Chris Stamp of Elgin.
For Stamp, 70, the trip was both very enjoyable and very emotional, according to his son Chris Stamp. “It was always something he wanted to do, to see the Vietnam Wall,” the younger Stamp said about his father. “Being around others (who served in Vietnam), he liked that.”
Stamp was part of the delegation of Vietnam veterans wearing red shirts, others wore white or blue shirts as part of the honor flight.
Like Meis, Stamp was moved by the emotional “welcome home” when they flew back into Omaha.
For many of the soldiers the “welcome” was far different from when they first came home from the war. Jerry spent approximately 13 months on active duty in Vietnam during the mid-1960s.
“He told me it was better late than never,” Chris Stamp said about the hero’s welcome they received late Monday night.
Stamp was accompanied to Omaha by his wife Sharon. They have three children: Chris of Elgin, Brett of St. Paul, NE; and Geri Jo Dyrdal of Omaha.