EveryStep Ceremony in Lockridge Honors Vietnam War Veteran

Vietnam veteran Wendell Ensminger

Pictured above (L-R): Vietnam War veteran Wendell Ensminger and EveryStep Veteran-to-Veteran volunteer Jordan Norton.

Vietnam Army veteran Wendell Ensminger was honored for his military service during a “pinning” ceremony March 5 arranged by the EveryStep Hospice team in Mount Pleasant. EveryStep staff and volunteers, including a fellow veteran, gathered in Wendell’s home, where he is receiving care from EveryStep Hospice.

Wendell grew up in Rome, Iowa and graduated from Mount Pleasant High School. At age 22, he entered service in the Vietnam War and served from 1967 to 1969. He was stationed at Bien Hoa Airbase near Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), where he fixed medevac helicopters.

“I had never looked or ever been around a helicopter until I went in the Army,” says Wendell. “But you just kind of pick it up as you go and pretty soon I could do it all.” As a mechanic, Wendell and his team would sometimes be flown to other air bases so they could fix helicopters there. On these trips, he would often see areas that had been bombed.

“There were just big rows of bomb holes,” says Wendell, who also experienced bombing runs from the ground. “The B-52s would strike 30 or 40 miles from us and the whole sky would be lit up red. You could almost feel them. It was like you could feel the bombs.” Upon returning home, Wendell married and had children, and became an iron welder.

March 29 is the seventh annual Vietnam War Veterans Day. The date is appropriate, as March 29, 1973, was the day Vietnam was disestablished and the last U.S. troops left Vietnam. It was also around this same day Hanoi released the last of its acknowledged prisoners of war. 

EveryStep’s veteran pinning ceremonies provide honor, dignity and recognition to veterans at the end of their lives. Family members and friends are often on hand with EveryStep staff and volunteers during the celebratory events, which include the Pledge of Allegiance, the awarding of a veteran service flag pin, the singing of “God Bless America,” a reading of "What is a Veteran," and the presentation of a certificate of recognition.

EveryStep is a nonprofit health care organization and a Level 4 partner in the nationally recognized We Honor Veterans initiative. Through its hospice program, EveryStep offers several specialized services for veterans. EveryStep’s Veteran-to-Veteran program is a special service pairing veterans who are volunteers with hospice patients who have served our country. A specialized Veteran-to-Veteran volunteer can provide companionship while talking, reading and sitting with patients. Veterans bring a unique skill set to help patients find peace at the end of life.

To learn about volunteering opportunities across the 44 counties and many communities served by EveryStep Hospice, please click here. If you or someone you know needs care or support, complete the confidential "Find Care" form here. The form sends a message to EveryStep staff who then follow up with a phone call. It's a great way to start a conversation and get answers with no cost or commitment. EveryStep can connect the individual to its own programs and services that may be helpful, as well as services offered by other organizations and providers in the community.

If you are a veteran interested in volunteering your time to visit hospice patients who have served in the military, learn more or complete a volunteer application here.