Earlier this month, Army Maj. Yancy Baer and six other individuals embarked on a 320-mile cycling journey, enduring intense heat and rain as they traveled through the former battlegrounds of central Vietnam. For Baer, the outcome of this endeavor was undoubtedly worth the effort he put in. According to McClatchy DC, the cyclists raised $170,000 in personal donations and corporate sponsorships to help Vietnam veterans who want to return to the country pay for their trips.

Veterans of different wars journey through Vietnam
"If it wasn't for Vietnam vets standing up and lobbying for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, I truly believe we wouldn't have the care or the warm homecoming that most of us have experienced," Baer told McClatchy DC. "It's a shame their generation didn't support them the same way."

The Army major recalled being greeted by veterans upon coming home in 2009 to undergo a leg amputation. Baer was incredibly grateful for their support, and his cycling journey is his way of returning the favor. He was joined by three other wounded Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans.

Two of the cyclists, Army Sgt. 1st Class David Lau and Capt. Chris Rosebrock, had served together in Afghanistan. The journey coincided with the day a suicide bomb blast injured them and killed 20 others two years ago. For Rosebrock, the trip offered a unique perspective of the Vietnam War and helped him gain a greater appreciation for the American soldiers' service.

John O'Connell, the one Vietnam vet on the expedition, became inspired to revisit Vietnam after working with younger veterans. The journey traversed areas where he fought in 1969, which brought back memories of his Marine Corps teammates – both those who are still alive and those who never came home. When the cyclists reached a site where some of O'Connell's men died in action, the veteran led the group in a prayer.

"It was like a final farewell," O'Connell said to McClatchy DC. "I'm going away grateful for having come back to Vietnam, and I am grateful for having come back with guys like these."

Operation Comfort to fund 25 Vietnam trips
The cyclists raised money on behalf of Operation Comfort, an organization dedicated to showing tangible forms of appreciation for wounded servicemembers. The group helps patients at veteran medical facilities in San Antonio, Texas recover quickly and completely. Thanks to the cyclists' fundraising efforts, Operation Comfort will be able to finance at least 25 Vietnam veterans' trips back to the country next year.