A birthday surprise for a Vietnam vet - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

A birthday surprise for a Vietnam vet

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MURRIETA (CBS 8) - A decorated army war veteran received the greatest birthday gift of his life Tuesday. A flight in the same model helicopter he fought in during the Vietnam War.

Vietnam changed a 22-year-old Joe Corona forever and Tuesday he flew in one of the last Vietnam helicopters of its kind as a surprise birthday gift.

Two of Joe's sons, Nick and Chad, say their dad never talked about his time in the army. And that's because Joe's wife Leslie says he suffers from PTSD.

As a door gunner on a Huey helicopter, Joe's job was to shoot to people and not die doing it. His worst regret, he said was asking a comrade to take his place on a mission so he could take some rest time. That friend was shot and killed.

At Joe's 70th birthday party, his family surprised him with a visit from his former captain. A now retired Lieutenant Colonel Warren Silva.

Tuesday, Joe flew free of charge - compliments of the Wings and Rotors Air Museum in Murrieta.

After decades of silence, Joe's getting counseling and holding his granddaughter, surrounded by the family he fought to come home to. We thank him for his service.

Joe earned two distinguished flying crosses and two bronze stars with valor for his service.

If you'd like to learn more about the helicopter he flew in Tuesday, CLICK HERE >>

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