The Last Chance Vet: Don Simpson - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

The Last Chance Vet: Don Simpson


The "Never Forgotten Honor Flight" takes veterans to the nation's capitol to see monuments in their honor. Top priority goes to World War II and Korean war servicemen and women, but a local Vietnam war veteran is an exception.    

At 64-years-old Don Simpson has seen a lot. The Neillsville resident served in the Army for three years, some of the toughest he's ever had to endure.

"This trip to Washington, D.C. and my experience with the Vietnam wall will bring back a rush of memories and there are a number of people on that wall that I knew very well, they're brothers to me," said Don Simpson. "I have a partner, we did two man teams when we were overseas and it was a big big loss for me."

A team now broken after a long war, but getting the chance to fly to Washington will help rekindle those memories.

Before Don knew it, the Vietnam Memorial was in sight. While most Vietnam veterans are not invited on the flight, there's an explanation for Don, and another battle in his life.

"I was bumped up as a Vietnam vet so to speak because I retired in April of 2011 after 30 years as a registered nurse and 11 months after I retired I was diagnosed with a cancer, multiple myeloma, for which there is no cure," he said. "It's a bone marrow cancer that's actually caused by white blood cells."

Doctors told him he has months to live.

That's why the "Never Forgotten Honor Flight" organizers reached out to Simpson, inviting him along for the journey to the nation's capitol.

It's all part of The Last Chance Vets program, making sure those who served regardless of the conflict are given the chance to go on this trip.

"It's an extreme honor for me to be stepped up with what I consider the heroes of World War II and Korea."

Simpson says after several hours his illness takes a toll on his body and his physical ability to move, but he says for the honor flight he's not going to let that happen.

"My partner is on this wall and it's very emotional for me to be here it brings back a lot of memories and we were like brothers I was with him when he died and he's with me to this day, and I'm with him," said Simpson.

A somber moment as Simpson reflects on his past.

"You can almost feel them reaching out from the wall, I find it very interesting the reflection in the wall as you stand and face the wall the reflection is there and you're part of them," he said.

A friendship gained and lost in the Vietnam war.

"Oh he knows I'm here, he knows," said Simpson.

Memories that are not only engraved in the Vietnam memorial.

"There is a good chance that I will never be back here, but I've been here and I've made the connection and that will always stay with me," he said.

Simpson says he had a stem cell transplant back in September at Ministry Saint Joseph's hospital in Marshfield. He says that surgery is making a big difference on his daily activities.  

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