Terminally ill central Ohio Vietnam veteran welcomed home decades later

Dick Makowski welcomed home at Waldo American Legion

WALDO, Ohio (10TV) -- A central Ohio Vietnam veteran is getting the welcome home he deserves decades later.

Dick Makowski, 74, served both country and community as a Vietnam veteran and retired captain of the Marion Fire Department. Now, Makowski is battling brain and lung cancer. Doctors have given him only weeks left to live.

Makowski's grandsons, Corey and Brandon, wanted to right a wrong by giving him the homecoming he never received after the war.

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"He said when he got off of the boat coming back, he actually felt safer in Saigon having lived in the Tet Offensive than he did on his own home soil," Corey Makowski said.

Brandon Makowski added, "I've always wanted to set it right and here's our opportunity to do so."

The grandsons brought together friends and family at the American Legion in Waldo to surprise their grandfather. They held signs and cheered as he came through the doors.

"I thought I was going to have a heart attack seeing all these people. It's unbelievable," Dick Makowski said.

10TV's Angela Reighard asked Makowski what the gesture means to him.

"I'm dying and all these people are here to help me and show me love and affection as I've had for other people. I'm glad it's being returned," he said with tears in his eyes.

Makowski said when he learned the news he only had weeks to live, he saw it as a bittersweet blessing. He has the time to say what he wants to say to people he loves and help his family prepare for when he isn't there.

"I didn't realize how fortunate of a man I was," he said. "I'm one of the luckiest men in the world right now!"

Makowski said looking back, he's had a "beautiful, wonderful life" that he would live again.