Published On: Thu, May 11th, 2017

Steckelberg goes on Vietnam Honor Flight ‘Final Mission’

OSMOND — When Dallas Steckelberg of Osmond made plans to join the Vietnam War Veterans Honor Flight “The Final Mission” to Washington, D.C., held Monday, May 1, he didn’t know what to expect. What he came away with was a very emotional experience. “Especially coming back to Lincoln,” he said of the group’s arrival Monday night, when thousands filled the Lincoln airport and grounds to greet the returning Vietnam vets.
“It was overwhelming,” Steckelberg said. “There was many a tear.”

Dallas Steckelberg stands in front of The Three Soldiers statue which is a short distance from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Dallas and wife Helen traveled to Omaha on Sunday to attend a “pre-flight” dinner and program, which included speakers Sen. Deb Fischer and Gov. Pete Rickets and a Bob Hope impersonator. There they met three other Osmond natives — Mike Steffen of Omaha and Pat Stanosheck and Denis Schneckloth of Lincoln — who would also be taking the Honor Flight.
Four planes — Red, White, Blue and “Uncle Sam” — chartered by Patriotic Productions took the 650 vets to Washington. There, they visited the Vietnam Wall, Lincoln Memorial, Korea Memorial, World War II Memorial and Iwo Jima Memorial and witnessed the Changing of the Guard ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown in Arlington Cemetery.
Meanwhile, Helen and the other spouses and some friends of the veterans were kept busy with a full day of activities named “The Home Front,” which included a trip to the Henry Doorly Zoo, a luncheon hosted by Nebraska’s First Lady, Susanne Shore, and a trip to Glacial Till Vineyard and Winery.
Helen said Dallas has never really talked about his time in the military. He served and “that’s just the way it was,” she said. She learned a lot more from the other spouses she met on Monday, she commented, mostly about Agent Orange and its effects on their husbands, which is quite extensive.
Dallas said that, on the flight to Washington, he and the other men talked about what they would see. He had been there several years ago with his wife and his daughter, Andrea, and her husband, Mark, and had seen most of the sites. It was a lot different, though, seeing it with fellow veterans. “It was pretty touching,” he said.
Upon arrival in Washington, Dallas said he was not in the same group as the other three Osmond natives, but understood that Pat Stanosheck left his dog tags and combat boots in front of the wall as a tribute to his brother, Mike Stanosheck, another Vietnam War veteran, who died in 2015.
Dallas served in the Navy from July 1967 to July 1969, and was a gunner’s mate on the USS Jerome County (LST-848), which was deployed to Vietnam from November 1967 to June 1968. When Dallas returned to Nebraska in 1968, his parents were the only ones greeting him at the airport.
That wasn’t the case on Monday. When he stepped off the plane late that night after a full day in Washington, he was greeted by his wife, Helen, son James Steckelberg and family, sister Shirley Hendrix and husband, Rod, brother- and sister-in-law Robert and Sue Wingert and thousands of individuals and organizations who cheered, waved signs and shook his hand.