(08/23/13) - Of all the war veterans our country has, many people say Vietnam veterans did not get the respect and thanks that others have received after they've returned from war.
One Vietnam veteran got a big thank you, Friday, in the form of a special chair that's going to make his life and his love of hunting, a little easier.
It was quite a scene in a Bay County shopping mall parking lot. A group of people gathered around a trailer, the media was present, and then a group of people came walking out of a restaurant.
In that group, a Vietnam veteran.
"I wondered what was everyone doing out here," said Vietnam veteran Nels Larsen.
Jim Tignanelli, of the Police Officers Association Michigan, has been helping veterans ever since he visited Walter Reed Medical Center years ago.
"First time I just took T-shirts," he said.
But he wanted to do more, and when he saw an Action TrackChair, which helps people with physical challenges get around in the outdoors, he started raising money. The chairs cost $13,000 each.
"I ran into the right people, and we are going to do three of them in the next 30 days," Tignanelli said.
Larsen, of Midland, received the first of those three chairs in a surprise ceremony that even caught his wife off guard.
"A friend called to let me know I better hurry up and get here and I was up on a ladder painting our garage," said his wife, Linda.
Larsen suffers from Agent Orange exposure and has a difficult time getting around. He slowly realized the chair was for him, because his nickname was on it.
"I saw Skeeter on the back of that chair, and it's pretty humbling," he said.
Despite his own challenges, he directs a program called Walleyes for Warriors that helps veterans go fishing.
"A lot of them can't go fishing on their own," he said.
He got to try the new chair out in the parking lot. Larsen actually used one of these chairs during a turkey hunt, and wrote a letter about his experience, that eventually was posted on Facebook. Now, he has one of his own.
November can't come soon enough.
"I'm going to go deer hunting," he said.
Two other veterans in the state will be receiving a chair like that, but we are not sure who at this point.
ABC12 Main Station