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Vietnam War veteran returns home to a hero’s welcome

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – It was a hero’s welcome decades in the making and it’s the ending to a story one veteran always wanted.

We first told you about Kent Maxfield last month. That’s when the Vietnam War veteran was boarding a flight back to the country where he spent years fighting to protect ours.

Only this time, the trip was on his terms. Visiting Vietnam was on Maxfield’s bucket list, one that was running out of time.

Walking through the Indianapolis International Airport Friday night, the excitement couldn’t hide behind his smile. The love around him couldn’t be contained. Kent Maxfield was home again.

His arrival looked much different from decades earlier. There were kisses, hugs, handshakes, and much respect for the veteran.

Maxfield said soldiers returning from Vietnam after the war were ignored and that some were even spit on.

But none of that happened Friday, not after his most recent trip to the other side of the world.

He wanted to erase the negative memories and replace them with new ones, a mission he was determined to complete.

Diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, doctors told him he’d have about a year to live. That diagnosis was two years ago.

As a dying wish, he ventured back to Vietnam and made peace in the very place he couldn’t while serving his country.

He said the trip was not only life changing, but exhausting.

But if he can survive war and fend off cancer, finishing the final task on his bucket list wasn’t going to be ignored.

“A lot was done,” he said. “It was both healing for me and helped a bunch of kids over there. Have a different view for the people of Vietnam and how much they love and care about us as much as them,” he said almost catching his breath after greeting so many of his family and friends. “Many many stories to tell. It was awesome.”

Maxfield went on the trip with family members and other veterans. They brought toys to give to children at four orphanages. He said he wanted to see their smiles and experience some joy, the opposite of what happened when he was serving.

Before the trip, Maxfield said images from that time were haunting him espcially from the battlefield.

“One key thing I can say is the Tet Offensive,” said Maxfield. He said “Tet” used to be a negative word to him, but it wasn’t anymore thanks to his visit.

Other positive memories included sightseeing. Maxfield and the other veterans even visited areas where they served and sadly lost some comrades. Those moments were often filled with prayer.

After being greeting by dozens of loved ones at the airport, about a dozen IMPD squad cars led his family as a police escort to his home in Fishers.