Surprise Homecoming Planned For Okmulgee Vietnam Veteran

Monday, April 10th 2017, 7:21 pm
By: Amy Slanchik

A Vietnam veteran from Okmulgee will be getting home soon from his first visit to Cambodia since the war.

Oklahoma Patriot Guard Riders want to make sure Ronnie Haney is treated to a big homecoming since he didn't receive one nearly 50 years ago.

As Robin Haney flipped through her husband's memories of his time serving in the United States Army, she was reminded of what he went through during the Vietnam War.

After about a year in Cambodia, Ronnie was shot on the day he was set to come back to the United States.

"In the neck and the left arm. He's all scarred up," Robin said.

It was the Fourth of July, 1971, and when he made it back to America he came home to people spitting, cursing and criticizing him, Robin said.

When Ronnie got out of the hospital he faced the same criticism.

Robin said, "People accused him of being baby killers, they were not welcomed going into a public place."

For the first time since 1971, he went back - this time, with his son Mark.

"That's why he wanted to go back, is to try to make some peace with himself. Not the country, but with himself," Robin said.

He's coming home for the second time on Tuesday, and David Priest with the Oklahoma Patriot Guard Riders spent about two weeks planning a surprise welcoming with Ronnie’s son.

"Your family, friends, and fellow Oklahomans, and the Patriot Guard Riders of Oklahoma are proud of you and your military service. Welcome home brother. And I gotta read that tomorrow," Priest said. "And we been communicating, and his dad doesn't know it."

The goal is to show not just Ronnie, but all other veterans, the support some of them never got.

Priest said, "And that's what it's about. I want them to know that their country loves them and they're not forgotten."

Robin tells us Ronnie doesn't have a cell phone or access to the internet, so he has no way of finding out about the surprise. His United Airlines flight from Denver is due to land in Tulsa at 4:35 p.m. on Tuesday, April 11, 2017.

The Oklahoma Patriot Guard Riders plan to escort Ronnie home after the homecoming.

If you'd like to participate in welcoming Ronnie home:

Bikers are asked to meet at 3 p.m. at the QT at Pine and Mingo. Because there will be so many bikes, all cars should go directly to Tulsa International Airport and park in short term parking and park on level 3.

The group will be meeting at concourse B between 4:10-4:30 pm.