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Vietnam Veteran Who Never Got a Hero’s Welcome on Return Home Fights Back Tears When He Is Surprised With a Giant Banner in His Hometown Honoring His Service

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A Vietnam War veteran who never got a hero’s welcome when he returned home fights back tears as he is greeted by a banner of him erected in his hometown to honor his years of service.

Ernesto Calderon, 76, never received a hero’s welcome his family felt he deserved when he returned from the scarring Vietnam War, but, as he walked down the main street of Salinas, California, Erenesto caught a glimpse of a banner affixed to a lamppost.

Initially, he had to double-take, stopping for second before admiring the banner, which featured a picture of him in military attire during service.

The gesture made Ernesto then well up, fighting back tears.

Ernesto entered service when he was 17, before heading to Vietnam for around three years – he was Infantry and when he came out he was sergeant E-5.


According to his daughter, Maria, who helped plan the surprise, Ernesto suffers from Parkinson’s Disease as a result of Agent Orange, as well as PTSD.

The events of the war took a lot out of Ernesto, family members said, and it wasn’t until years later he started getting the help he needed.

Ernesto lost many friends in combat and knowing there had not been a homecoming parade for his service in Vietnam, Maria wanted to do something to thank her father for his service.

She found out about Salinas Hometown Heroes, an organization that allows family members to submit applications for veterans to be honored on banners in the town.

Ernesto reacts to the sign put up in his hometown honoring his service in the Vietnam war. ©T&T Creative Media

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Maria applied on her father’s behalf, and knowing that the banner was up, she and the family brought her father for a walk through Old Main Street, where the banners were hanging, on September 14.

Once the family reached Ernest’s banner, they shouted “Surprise!” as he looked up, capturing the moment on video.

Maria said: “While my sister and family were walking with him, I went looking for the banner, and as they came up the sidewalk, I started to film him and caught him looking up and noticing his picture.

“From the video you can see his reaction.


“It was nothing of a parade that he deserved for his service or recognition, but this was just as good and rewarding to see his expression.

“My dad has always loved his county and was very proud to serve.”


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