Local Vietnam veteran with ALS accomplishes dream at Terre Haute Air Show

In the back roads in southern Terre Haute in this house lives Vietnam veteran Kenneth Dierdorf. Though his service was many years ago he still remembers it all very vividly.

Posted: Aug. 19, 2018 3:37 PM
Updated: Aug. 20, 2018 6:49 AM

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI)- In the back roads in southern Terre Haute in this house lives Vietnam veteran Kenneth Dierdorf. Though his service was many years ago he still remembers it all very vividly.

"In November I turned 21 I was the oldest person in the platoon at that time," said Dierdorf.

Dierdorf served as a machine gunner on a Bell UH-1 helicopter during the war. His group called themselves the dirty half dozen.

Those members were Tom Owen, Larry Summers, Gil Edgington, and Joe Lewis. Jerry Little was also in their squad but passed away eariler this year.

Every day they took to the air accomplishing their missions. Things are a little different for Dierdorf now. He's suffering from ALS, an incurable and crippling disease.

Dierdorf had one wish before his condition got any worse. He wanted to sit with his comrades one last time aboard their "huey" helicopter.

VNA Hospice nurses and others in the valley helped make that dream come true for the air show.

"It means a lot. We're going to be together one more time. I tell everybody, every days a new day, you make it what you want to make it," said Dierdorf.

Before they buckled in they were honored the veterans for their service by giving them a pin and plaque thanking them..

Eventually the dirty half dozen loaded up. Sadly the flight itself was too much for Dierdorf because of his condition, but he still sat back with a smile as his brothers took another ride.

"You know I’m thankful that we got to do it and we thought of ken when we were up there. It was a good ride, a real good ride," said Owen.

Owen, Dierdorf and the rest of the brothers said this experience brought back a lot of memories. They're grateful for the nurses who selflessly helped make it possible.

"I say a prayer every day and i thank god for all they have put into my life."

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