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'Thank you for your service,' takes on a new meaning for a Vietnam veteran after taking an Honor Flight

Posted at 6:45 PM, Apr 25, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-25 21:45:32-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Tim Woodruff found himself struggling for years after his service to our country with post-traumatic stress disorder, but he reluctantly went on an Honor Flight.

He said it saved his life and hopes other veterans will take part in Honor Flight San Diego too.

Sitting on a bench combing through dozens of pictures taken during his three-year career in the Army is Tim Woodruff.

He was gung ho about joining the service after graduating from Hoover High.

“I enlisted. I went to jump school. I wanted to be a paratrooper. I wanted to win the Congressional Medal of Honor. I wanted to be praised and glorified," he said. "That went away real soon after I got to Vietnam."

He volunteered to go to Vietnam while serving in the Army’s special forces.

He spent eight months fighting with the 101st Batallion in Vietnam.

While there, he was wounded three times.

“A lot of people think that getting wounded makes you a hero," he said. "It doesn’t make you a hero at all."

He found himself battling post-traumatic stress disorder and struggling to find sincerity in the words, "Thank you for your service."

“They don’t know anything about me. They don’t know whether I was a coward," he said. "They don’t know if I was a person that would abandon my fellow man in combat."

Then came the opportunity to board an Honor Flight.

“I was thinking, you know, after this flight, if it proves to be just as worse as everything else that’s going on in my life," he said. "I’m just going to kinda let things go—make it my last hoorah, if you will."

Instead, he found the sincerity he had been looking for all along and changed his mind knowing he had a bigger purpose.

“It was —it was just a life-changing experience. Its a combination of finding people who care-finding people who reach out to you and take you as you are. They don’t ask you to change or be anything other than who you are," he said.

Now, he doesn’t mind people thanking him for this service.

“Now, when they do, I take it as a real compliment," he said.

If you or someone you know is struggling, the San Diego Crisis Hotline is available 24-7. The number is 888-724-7240.

You can also call 988 for the suicide and crisis lifeline.

Meantime, Honor Flight San Diego will take its next group of veterans to Washington, D.C., this weekend.