By Louis Hoglund
Fire truck sirens and a hometown crowd provided a warm welcome back for Vietnam veteran Ed Fjestad, after his Honor Flight trip to Washington D.C.
“They took great care of us. We had a banquet every night—and they brought in girls who sang music from the 1950s and 60s!” exclaimed Fjestad, Pelican Rapids. The flight returned May 9 to Fargo, and when he arrived in Pelican Rapids, friends and family greeted him at the Pelican Rapids Fire Hall.
He was one of nearly 200 on the Spring 2023 Honor Flight for veterans.
Serving in the Army from 1967-1970, Fjestad served nearly a year in Vietnam in 1969—with the 62nd Combat Engineers.
A 1965 Rothsay High School graduate, Fjestad enlisted in the Army about the time things were heating up in Vietnam.
During his tour of duty, not only did he build roads and drive a Jeep, but Fjestad was also a “backup cook.” He was a sergeant at the time of his discharge.
Fjested and the entourage visited the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and Arlington Cemetery. At the Vietnam Memorial Wall, Fjestad found the name of one of the soldiers he befriended at basic training—who was killed in action in Vietnam.
“The Honor Flight is very special. And I’m at an age where I figured I had better do it now,” said Fjestad. His health has slipped somewhat, due in part to his exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam.
According to his wife Sharon, it was Pelican VFW Post 5252 officer Danny Jongeward who encouraged the trip. “Danny approached us and said, ‘Ed, you need to go on the Honor Flight,’” said Sharon.
Joining him on the Honor Flight trip was his son Jeff, who was equally awestruck by the sights in Washington, D.C.
In his civilian life, Fjestad was a 39-year employee of Crane Johnson Lumber in Pelican Rapids. Sadly, about the time he was boarding for the Honor Flight, the local lumber yard was closing. The company he spent a career with is merging with the Perham facility, and the Pelican yard will be fully closed by October.