Veteran shares incredible story at the Military Heritage Museum

Reporter: Anika Henanger
Published: Updated:
Attendees applaud at the ceremony on Veterans Day. (Credit: WINK News)
Attendees applaud at the ceremony on Veterans Day. (Credit: WINK News)

A Vietnam war veteran shares his incredible story in front of hundreds of people who turned out to honor service members on Monday at the Military Heritage Museum in Punta Gorda.

In every branch of the U.S. military, brave men and women vow to defend our country. As veterans, that promise still stands. Richard “Gus” Gustafson, a Vietnam war veteran, said it something most people do not realize. “Even though we just finished our enlistment or retired, we never took that oath back,” he said. “It’s still utmost in our minds.”

More than 250 people stood to honor veterans at the Military Heritage Museum in Punta Gorda Monday, which was a showcase to that enduring dedication. “Not everyone needs to be a soldier, a sailor, an airmen or marine, or coast guard,” Gustafson said. “But they can support us. And that we appreciate. It means as much to us as anything.”

The support acknowledges an appreciation for the sacrifice veterans like Gustafson went through. Gustafson told war stories of working in helicopters and the jungle. Jim Brand, a World War II veteran, said those experiences make you grow up fast. “Changed my whole outlook on life after that,” he said.

They are experiences Brand, 94 years old, told WINK News that must be shared.

“It taught you to have faith in yourself, Brand said. “That was one of the biggest things. To have faith in yourself that you can do it.”

The executive director of the Military Heritage Museum, Gary Butler, said the ceremony was so inspiring, someone offered to donate a replica of “The Three Soldiers” statue that you can see on the National Mall in D.C.

Meanwhile, for Gustafson, it was the songs and the sounds of loved ones listening that made the ceremony so memorable.

“I just want them to thank other veterans before they’re gone,” Gustafson said. “Appreciate them while they’re still here.”

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