Updated: Tuesday, 22 May 2012, 5:57 PM CDT
Published : Monday, 21 May 2012, 9:48 PM CDT
FORT HOOD, Texas (KXAN) - A long-awaited, welcome-home celebration finally came for hundreds of Vietnam veterans who got a heroes' welcome they thought they'd never live to see.
As the buses rolled up, an emotional crowd -- young and old alike -- awaited to cheer on the war heroes. This celebration was unlike any other in the history of Fort Hood.
"It's unspeakable, really. It's the greatest thing. It's a long time coming," said Bill Whitaker, attending the event.
"Today was great. It's a lot better than it was in San Francisco; when we came back, it was terrible," said Greg Scarr.
Monday's event was the first of its kind in Fort Hood.
"I didn't think I would get as emotional as I did," said Lt. Gen. Don Campbell Jr. of the U.S. Army. "Having had a father that served in Vietnam, but to get the hugs and the thanks for those veterans that were out there today thanking me was worth every bit of investment that we did."
Some of these veterans said they never thought they'd see this day come. They said that Monday's event would help them find closure in their life.
"How come I made it and they didn't?" asked Fred Del Rio. "Today has been very emotional."
As he looked at the traveling Vietnam Wall memorial, he said he can now try and move on from some long held resentments he's carried much of his life.
"All the Vietnam veterans, we were hugging each other, saying 'welcome home' and guess what nobody did? Welcome us home when we got back."
For others it was a time to put post-war experiences behind them and move ahead with their lives.
"I for one was spat on when I came back from Vietnam and this really makes a difference," said Abel Whit.