LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A group of veterans had the opportunity to go back to Vietnam. The trip was organized by a nonprofit whose mission is to provide meaningful and lasting experiences to those who have served. It was a trip dedicated to healing and connecting to the country and its culture.
"We was young - 18, 19, 17. Now we've been out for 50 years. We're going back to take a look at what we really were involved in," said Johnnie L. McGlothen, a Vietnam veteran.
We caught up with the veterans before they left from LAX for the nine-day trip. The goal - closure and healing. Many wanted to see the country's progress after living in war-torn conditions as teenagers.
"Our home was made out of bamboo sticks. It was made out of lumber, wood, just like a normal home. When you see those bamboo homes, you realize how lucky you are. The malnourished people over there. We didn't have that in Nebraska," said Charles Endorf, a Vietnam veteran.
And seeing Vietnam now was incredibly different. From drinking and eating the local cuisine, to exploring Vietnamese roadways, these veterans say seeing how far the country has come makes them feel like a small part of success.
"The places I didn't get a chance to go, I would like to see those places", said McGlothen.
Nonprofit Waypoint Vets, along with partnering groups, funded the trip for these veterans working in the transportation industry. Sarah Lee is the group's founder and executive director.
"It'll be challenging mentally and physically but also I feel very empowering," said Lee. "My hope is that they feel a rediscovery and some of that debt we carry as veterans gets to be repaid simply by paying respects on the soil there."
They visited places like Halong Bay, the U.S. consulate and the former embassy in Saigon.
"It's a memory you just don't forget," said Endorf.
"I'm the most happy man that lived for this opportunity to go back and look at this," said McGlothen.