Countdown to Operation LZ continues

Published 10:27 am Tuesday, August 11, 2015

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War. A war that lasted 13 years  and divided the nation.

Many young men and women were called to serve and sacrifice, but upon discharge they received no thank you or welcome home, according to a press release. History shows many, if not most, were ridiculed and openly challenged in public for their service.

Eighteen months ago a group of north Iowans from nine counties, led by Riley Lewis, Jack Caputo, Mark Frakes, Leon Christianson, Dave Kingland and Bob Havner decided to host a local event where all those who served in all services from 1962 through 1975 were honored and thanked.

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Operation Landing Zone in Forest City, Iowa, was created where each veteran could bring family, friends and community to receive honor and a special thank you. The main event days are Aug. 29 and Aug. 30.

The committee of 25 from the nine counties raised funds from over 100 individuals, businesses and six county governments. They also were strongly encouraged when offered the free use of the Winnebago Industries Rally Grounds, Heritage Park and Forest City Airport.

Opportunities for LZ attendees include viewing the traveling wall, a huey, Cobra and T-6; and POW-MIA tethered hot air balloon rides. They will be complemented with an air show both days featuring skydivers and Poet Ethanol stunt plane squadron. Other activities include a Rockie Lynne concert on the afternoon of Aug. 29, military vehicles from yesterday compared to today and the popular Vietnam Traveling Museum,containing over 10,000 articles. Other Vietnam aircraft from around the country will be there as well.

Also in attendance and part of the activities will be Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, POW Larry Spencer and Marine Three Star General Hejlik who grew up in the Garner area.

At 9 a.m. Aug. 30 will be a non-denominational service with Chaplain Brigadier General John Hemann at the Wall and the Private Andrew Malone Car Show and Shine Car Show from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. for all cars older than 1975. A special memory lane will feature cars, trucks or motorcycles of passed Vietnam era vets still owned by family members or friends. No registration required.

All attendees are encouraged to register at or by calling 641-582-2771.

Vietnam era vets will receive by registering a free meal card and commemorative medallion or coin.

Camping is available. Lawn chairs are encouraged and golf carts can be rented call 641-843-4132.

Operation LZ is a one-time event in honor of Vietnam vets. The free event is open to the public as well as all veterans. For more questions call Linda Parmley at 641-909-4579.