“One of the key ideas that we were trying to get at the heart of is this notion of what was it like to go to Vietnam and return”, Curator of Collections at the NJ Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial and Museum, Mike Thorton explains in describing the museum’s exhibition, There and Back: The Journey to Vietnam and Home.

This exhibition explores the experience of American troops returning from Vietnam, first on troop ships, then on civilian chartered aircrafts as the war progressed. Among the artifacts on display, visitors will find graffiti, drawings left behind by young soldiers and, other items from the era such as candy wrappers, liquor bottles, and much more.

Additionally, this exhibit focuses on the women who put themselves in harms way serving as flight attendants on the chartered aircrafts bringing the men home. “For many of the soldiers, the welcome that they received from these airline hostesses was the only welcome home that they would ever receive” Thorton tells us. As a sign of gratitude, some of the men would gift small medals and pins to these women while on their journey home.

To learn more about the NJ Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial and Museum visit their website.