Twin Tiers Honor Flight Mission 13′s brothers in Arms and in life

Published: Oct. 18, 2022 at 3:46 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON (WBNG) -- Over the weekend, 49 local veterans visited the nation’s capital as part of Twin Tiers Honor Flight Mission 13. Of those 49 military brothers, three of them are actual brothers, connected through blood.

For Joseph, Gerry and Fred Urda, Mission 13 is more than just a trip to Washington, D.C. Originally from Windsor, the three brothers went their separate ways after joining the military during the war in Vietnam.

Joseph enlisted in the Navy in 1966 and served until 1970, Gerry enlisted in the Army from ‘68 to ‘71, and Fred served in the Army for two years from ‘69 to ‘71.

“Well, my story is shorter,” Fred said. “I let them draft me.”

The three were spread out across the globe in Japan, Italy, and Vietnam during their time serving. While they didn’t get to hear from each other much during that time, they spent this trip reflecting on the years they’d lost with each other, both during and after the service.

“I remembered this morning that we had a meat market in Windsor, and all three of us got salami one year while we were overseas,” Gerry said. “I don’t know why [our father] sent salami to Italy, but it was great.”

While in the Navy, Joseph was one of nine Navy morticians at the time. He said he’s been to our nation’s capital multiple times, but it never gets easier.

“The guys on the wall - The Vietnam Wall - that I sent home to their mothers and wives that they never kept records of the names, and I wish they did,” he said. “That is one regret I have, because I don’t know who they were.”

The three said due to the stigma surrounding Vietnam, they never spoke about the war when they returned.

“I’m sure, he’s got things that he saw or did that aren’t worth repeating, and I saw the results of casualties coming into Japan at the mortuary,” Joseph said. “You know, those things are in your head. You can never get rid of that. I still do.”

However, as they learned this weekend, because of their service to our country, their brotherhood goes beyond the blood they share.

“There’s a camaraderie between veterans that the general public doesn’t recognize; They don’t understand it,” said Joseph.