BOISE, Idaho — Larry Head of Boise is a father, a grandfather, and a proud Marine. He fought in the Vietnam War.
"I served 67-71 in the Marine Corps," said Head. "Once a Marine, always a Marine, you never lose that. There's no past Marines, only Marines."
He remembers the exact length of his tour in Vietnam, 13 months and 28 days. He was awarded two purple hearts for his service.
"He doesn't always like to talk about it, but when he does you can feel it so deeply in him. It affected him good and bad," said Tiffany Head, Larry's daughter-in-law.
A few weeks ago, he was thrilled to take part in the Honor Flight, where America's veterans are invited to share in a day of honor at our nation's memorials. His wife Marie went with him.
"Oh, the Honor Flight is wonderful," said Larry. "You are bussed into D.C. to all the war memorials, the changing of the guard, a group picture, and then we went to other memorials. I saw things that I have never been to, and always wanted to go to. You know, the country is changing, but I still think there's a sense of underlying patriotism, and it doesn't matter politically what you believe. We believe in the country, and I think when you go to DC you see that. That's heartwarming."
His memories of the war are difficult to talk about. Larry witnessed the horrors of war. He suffered a terrible loss. The death of his best friend, fellow Marine Richard Gaffney, in Vietnam.
"I broke down, I was inconsolable, because he was dead, I was holding what was left of him," said Larry. "When he died, part of my heart died."
Head was able to honor Gaffney at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in D.C., a very touching moment.
"When we were at the wall, I found him. I know what battle, I know what row he's on," said Head. "There's 58-thousand names that wall, and one of them is my friend. To see all of those people who have died in Vietnam is heart wrenching."
The trip was a beautiful and bittersweet experience. But the homecoming to Boise was something Head will never forget. The Vietnam War was controversial in America, and as you know, many of our veterans did not get the welcome home they deserved. Larry Head was one of those young men. This time, his family and friends were there to give him the welcome home he never had.
"To be greeted at the airport when we got here and got off the plane, it's quite a feeling of community," said Head.
His daughter-in-law, Tiffany Head, said it was an incredible thing to witness.
"It was wonderful to see his excitement and joy, and his appreciation of coming home, and being a part of that," said Tiffany Head.
But that was just the beginning. There was so much more waiting for Larry at home. His street in Boise was lined with American flags. More friends, and neighbors were waiting for him.
"I knew how excited he would be when he came home and would see all these flags honoring him and honoring our country," said Tiffany. "He deserves it, even if he doesn't think he does. He didn't get it the first time. So, we felt it was really important for him to know how much we appreciate him."
Larry doesn't like a fuss made over him, or to be the center of attention, but this was something special.
"I'm a private person, and I don't show my emotions, and i've tried to bury them after Vietnam," said Larry. "To have all of these people here who are my friends coming to wish me well, it just opens my heart up and I love them for it. The feelings of emotion, I've closed myself off for so many years. Although I had dreams, cold sweats all those things that guys go through that have PTSD, this I think is the best healing balm that can happen. It's friends helping other friends."
For his family, it also meant to world.
"Just watching him get emotional, got me emotional, and I know how patriotic he is and how much he loves this country," said Tiffany Head. "I think he's going to look back on this and it's going to be one of the biggest joys in his life."
Larry was overwhelmed with gratitude.
"To our friends here that came, I appreciate what you've done for me," said Head. "It was a source of healing. I'll cherish that."
Larry was also able to visit the Wall That Heals, the traveling replica of the Vietnam Memorial, when it came to Scentsy earlier this month.
He found his best friend's name on that wall, once again. It was a powerful moment he was able to share with his family.
Watch more '7's Hero'
See all of the heartwarming segments in our YouTube playlist here:
HERE ARE MORE WAYS TO GET NEWS FROM KTVB:
Download the KTVB News Mobile App
Apple iOS: Click here to download
Google Play: Click here to download
Stream Live for FREE on ROKU: Add the channel from the ROKU store or by searching 'KTVB'.
Stream Live for FREE on FIRE TV: Search ‘KTVB’ and click ‘Get’ to download.