Richard Steckler hands food to a woman holding a Vietnamese toddler in an orphanage adjoining Binh Thuy Air Base in the Vietnam Delta in 1971. 

As the nation honors veterans on Saturday, a Houston resident was recently recognized as part of Armed Forces Day at the University of Kentucky, the first university in the country to sponsor an Honor Flight to Washington, D.C.

Houston resident retired Col. Richard “Dick” H. Steckler, U.S. Air Force, was among more than 70 UK alumni veterans who served in World War II, the Korean War or the Vietnam War who made the trip.


Col. Richard “Dick” Steckler

Veterans spent the day visiting memorials honoring their service and remembering those lost in protection of the country and freedoms Americans’ value. Toward the end of the day, one of the most anticipated times for any soldier was recreated — “Mail Call.” Each veteran received a packet of mail containing letters of gratitude from students, dignitaries and elected officials. One that touched his heart was from a sixth-grade student. In part, it read, “Thank you for protecting our country. Without, I might not be here. Thank you.”

UK President Dr. Elie Capilouto, wrote in his letter to veterans, “…We will never fully repay you for your service, but we hope that this special opportunity honors your contributions and makes clear our enduring appreciation to you and your family…Thank you — not only for what your sacrifice has already made possible — but also for what your legacy will continue to mean for countless people at home and around the world.”

Steckler’s son, Rich, accompanied him on the trip. 

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