'They're my brothers': Minnesota veteran honors 95 soldiers who died fighting in Vietnam
[anvplayer video=”4911159″ station=”998122″]
A Vietnam veteran from a small town in Minnesota has found a special way to honor his fallen brothers.
Rick DeNomme, of Watertown, set up 95 crosses in his lawn in memory of the 95 men from his company who never made it home.
Each cross has the name, photo and date that each soldier was killed in action.
"They're my brothers," DeNomme said through tears. "A great bunch of men."
DeNomme was drafted at the age of 19 and was sent to Vietnam in 1966. He spent one year there, where he said he witnessed firsthand the horrors of war.
He made a promise to himself to honor his fallen friends from Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry, which served in Vietnam from 1966 to 1971.
With help from his family, DeNomme built 95 crosses and found a photo of every deceased soldier. It takes him an entire day to set up the display on his front lawn, making sure the lines are perfectly straight.
He has taken on this endeavor every Memorial Day for the last 20 years.
"We have to take care of our brothers," DeNomme said. "But it's really for the country to see how many people really do get killed in war."
For many families, visiting DeNomme's memorial has become a yearly tradition.
"It's something we look forward to and it brings home what the day really means," said Brei Brandenburg, who lives nearby.
DeNomme said families of the fallen come from all over the country to visit. The men in his unit were from many different states, including Minnesota, Iowa, Kansas and Hawaii.
He hopes his small display will have a big impact on anyone who comes to see it.
"Helps them remember and know the real reason of Memorial Day," DeNomme said.
The memorial will be set up through Tuesday. If you would like to see it in person, it is located at 716 Green Avenue SE in Watertown. DeNomme plans to continue putting up the display for years to come and hopes his children and grandchildren will someday carry on the tradition.