Honor Flight veteran honors friend at Vietnam Memorial

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial was one of several emotional visits for veterans.
Published: May. 23, 2022 at 9:14 PM CDT
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ODESSA, Texas (KOSA) - There were plenty of emotional experiences to be had on the 2022 Permian Basin Honor Flight, but the visit to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial might have been the most heart-wrenching.

“Back then, we were boys,” said Vietnam veteran Don Jones.

For Jones, Honor Flight was a chance to do just that: honor lost friends.

“I went to Vietnam in September ‘68 and returned in September ‘69.”

Like most veterans on the trip, it was Jones’ first visit to the wall.

And while most veterans used the trip to heal, tracing names and remembering the past, Jones used it to leave a memento to an old friend.

“I wore a bracelet off and on for the past 50 years of one of my sergeants,” he said.

The bracelet is a tribute to Army Sergeant Major Ronald James Dexter, who disappeared in 1967.

“He was the third helicopter behind that got shot down in Laos, and they still haven’t found his remains,” Jones said.

According to the POW Network, Dexter survived the crash but was captured and held as a prisoner of war. Another captured soldier said dexter died at a POW camp.

“I just wanted to honor him one last time,” Jones said. “So, I left my bracelet at his feet.”

For others, the memorial was overwhelming, the thin margin between life and death reflected in black granite.

“I don’t feel worthy,” Vietnam veteran Larry Elkins said, fighting back tears. “I just… I just don’t.”

The impact is not limited to veterans.

According to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, there are still over a thousand unaccounted for or missing in action from Vietnam.

But the memory and sacrifice of soldiers like Sergeant Major Ronald James Dexter resides forever in stone.

“We got the call, and we went to serve,” Jones said. “I hope we did some good.”

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