Veterans visit war memorials with Utah Honor Flight

May 29, 2024, 6:02 PM | Updated: 6:49 pm

SALT LAKE CITY Roughly 70 veterans with Utah Honor Flight have returned to Utah after spending two days in the nation’s Capitol, reflecting on their service.

Among those to make the trip was John Kocinski, a veteran of the Vietnam War. He finally got to find those of his two cousins and his brother, Chris Kocinski. He placed a picture of Chris Kocinski at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Chris Kocinski was a non-combat casualty of Vietnam War. His brother, John Kocinski, placed a picture of Chris Kocinski at a memorial in Washington, D.C. (Mike Anderson, KSL TV)

“Finally get to put him to rest,” John Kocinski said.

Chris Kocinski was one of the many casualties of the Vietnam War who were not killed in combat.

“There’s more veterans from Vietnam to commit suicide than were killed in the war,” John Kocinski said. “That’s a proven fact.”

For John Kocinski, finding those names etched in stone means everything. Something those who didn’t serve may never fully understand.

For John Kocinski, finding those names etched in stone means everything. (Mike Anderson, KSL TV)

But some of these veterans — like Dennis Tireman — have a lot of that context. They lived it.

“It was a big thing for me,” Tireman said.

Tireman was able to search Arlington National Cemetery and find the headstone of his brother a three-war veteran and his brother’s wife.

“It’s fabulous,” Tireman said.

And Don Davis spent time finding the name of a good friend whose remains he helped bring home.

“It was very important to me,” Davis said. “We was looking forward to this group for quite a while.”

The Utah Honor Flight sends dozens of veterans at a time on trips to Washington, D.C. Many times there are multiple trips each year, all made possible through donations and volunteers.

“They didn’t want this war,” John Kocinski said. “Everybody was against it. But you know what? We fought over there to help preserve freedom over there, so we could have be safe here in the United States.”

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Veterans visit war memorials with Utah Honor Flight