‘I Won’t Abandon You’: Veteran John Hedley’s Life Motto

Apr 2, 2018

John Hedley is president of Welcome Home Veterans a non-profit organization run out of Richard's Coffee Shop in Mooresville.
Credit John Hedley

On his desk sits a bumper sticker that reads “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.” For John Hedley this statement is personal, not political. He vividly remembers coming home from Vietnam to angry crowds who branded him and his fellow service members “potheads, murderers and nutjobs.” His solution? Showing first-hand support for the next generation of soldiers.

As Hedley began to lose buddies and their families began asking questions, this project started as a gift to them. Most never speak of what happened at war, this was a way of preserving their legacy for their families.
Credit A15 Publishing


He once flew to Hawaii with members of his old platoon donned in full uniform down to their bright red scarves. As the current members of his infantry were headed off to war in Iraq, the old timers placed their red scarves around the necks of the new soldiers.

For the past decade Hedley has also been facilitating gatherings at a Mooresville coffee shop, which has become a place of solace to many veterans.

What began as a veteran-friendly place to hang out has become a non-profit organization that provides resources for veterans in need. He holds a firm, lifelong commitment to make sure he lives by the words on that bumper sticker. John Hedley joins Frank Stasio to discuss his life before and after Vietnam. Hedley says the pictures painted about the men who fought in Vietnam do not reflect what he lived.  In his book, “Saddle Up: The Story of a Red Scarf” (A15 Publishing/2017), he shares never told stories of the brothers he fought beside in the jungles of Southeast Asia.