Vietnam Veteran, Darryl Couts Selected for Honor Flight

Darryl volunteers at the Excelsior Springs Museum and Archives (photo S Jason Cole).

Excelsior citizen, Vietnam Veteran, and all-around good guy, Darryl Couts was recently recognized for his military service with an “Honor Flight” to Washington DC along with a number of other Kansas City area veterans. Honor Flights were started in 2005 “with six small planes flying twelve WWII veterans from Springfield, Ohio to Washington, DC,” but have quickly gained popularity and now take flight from several regional airports throughout the United States. The flights allow veterans to visit the Capital and travel to a number of the national war monuments to reflect on their time in the service. Couts was selected for the 2022 Kansas City Honor Flight after having his credentials submitted to the organization. 

Couts, who took the trip with his brother, said the experience was one he’ll never forget. But, he said the most memorable moments weren’t at the monuments in DC, but rather in the “coming and going.” As a Vietnam Veteran, Couts said the reception he received upon his return from the service was at times anything but warm and welcoming, so this trip and the recognition he received were very special to him. “My life has never been about me. I was a school teacher. It’s all about doing what you can do for others… So it was something that I had never really experienced. The whole trip was totally about me and the 75 others on my flight,” Couts said. Darryl said the most powerful moments of the journey were at the airport terminals. When their flight landed in Washington DC the plane was greeted with a water cannon salute. On the flight home, each veteran was given an envelope full of letters from family, friends, school children, and other veterans telling them how much they meant to the country and to the individuals writing the letters. When the plane landed back in Kansas City the veterans walked through a throng of cheering supporters, waving flags, holding signs, and playing music.

Darryl was stricken with a flea-borne illness while in the service. Here he is posing for a picture wearing the flea collar Connie sent to him (submitted photo).

Couts is thankful for his family and friends who have shown him support over the years. He gave credit to his wife, Connie for making him the man he is today.  He said Connie helped him move forward in his life after the war. “A lot of guys came home, you know, maybe disabled, couldn’t find a job, their girlfriend, maybe a married their best buddy,” he reflected. “I got home in April, got married in June, five days later, we were off to work at a private boys camp in Wisconsin and two months later, I’m here to teach. So I was looking forward, forward forward,” Darryl said. He said he told Connie the best thing about this trip was that she was there to greet him, just like after his time in the service.

Anyone interested in the Honor Flight organization can visit their website, honorflightkc.org for more information. Mr. Couts said he would also be willing to help those interested in participating.


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