Veterans comfort dying Vietnam vet - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Veterans comfort dying Vietnam vet


A small group of Vietnam veterans gather every Wednesday in Longview to be with a fellow veteran, in the final days of his life with an effort they call the Donut Club.

He was a staunch advocate of Vietnam veterans issues in Gregg County for decades, but life has taken mobility away from Navy Vietnam veteran Brad Bemis.

"Its very frustrating, I used to love working in my yard, now its full of weeds I can't even mow my own yard. I can't walk more than about 20 feet before being out of breath," Bemis says.

A 20 year Navy veteran, Bemis is visited twice a week by the Donut Club, his fellow Vietnam vets.

Bemis has stage four emphysema, and is tethered on oxygen 24/7.

These gatherings mean everything to him.

"Means the world to me," he says.

"Number one, Brad's a good friend. We should look in on the old guy and see how he's doing, its not leaving anybody behind," says fellow veteran Steve Grim.

They laugh and talk and most important, talk about how their service had meaning.

"The thing I value most of anything I've ever done, is my military service. I served my country," says Bemis.

"Unfortunately Brad doesn't have much time left, so if we can get together make him feel a little more comfortable, loved, respected, that's a good thing," Grim says.

For his friends, it's a matter of honor.

"This is the final phase of his life, we know it, he knows it, and we get to spend some valuable time with him," says fellow veteran Ron Frey.

Bemis says he contracted emphysema from a lifetime of smoking. His friends say they will continue the Donut Club until the very end.

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