Jacksonville principal has a big wish for his grandfather, a Vietnam veteran suffering from Agent Orange
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Local principal, Justin Fluent, planned to teach his students about the Vietnam War and honor local vets, including his grandpa. But his grandfather was ill in bed.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — What a welcome home!  First Coast High students learned in class about the terrible treatment too many of our veterans received coming home from war.

Protestors spit on them. Some anti-war activists even threw fake blood at the veterans in uniform coming back to airports in the United States.

Fifty years later, the principal of First Coast High, Justin Fluent wanted to plan a special event to honor local Vietnam veterans.

The students made signs with large letters:  WELCOME HOME and THANK YOU.

The JROTC members were ready with the presentation of the colors.

Fluent and his history teachers wanted to bring history alive for their students in the auditorium.

But a worry for Fluent was about his grandfather. 

Fluent says, “Charles Arthur Fluent was a Petty Officer First Class with the U.S. Navy. He’s 92 years old. His health is declining from the effects of Agent Orange. But he’s proud of his service, and we’re proud of him for that.”

A week or so before the school honor event. Fluent’s grandfather was frail and in bed. 

Back now to the big honor day inside the auditorium at First Coast High…

Each Vietnam veteran’s name is read and the students cheer.

Then Fluent takes the mic and says, “There’s one final veteran I want to introduce, my grandfather.”

What a moment! Grandfather Fluent is standing up on his own.  No walker. No wheelchair. He’s in a spunky cowboy hat, and when the students see him, they cheer with even more gusto.

Grandpa Fluent lifts his hands, beams, and gives a thumbs-up.

Principal Fluent is moved, even a bit choked up.  

“It was an emotional moment. He has been so influential in my life,” Fluent says.

His grandfather was in the Seabees, a group of Navy military members trained for construction and for combat. 

Fluent says his grandfather taught him never to say, “You can’t do anything. You can do it.”  That was the philosophy of the Seabees. Can do.

Fluent asked First Coast News to show our new Vietnam documentary at the event.  “

Voices of Bravery, Honoring our Veterans of Vietnam” focuses on local veterans’ stories and key points of the controversial war with a local historian, Dr. Michael Butler.

You can watch the documentary now streaming on Fire TV and Roku on FirstCoastNews+.

You can also text the word VIETNAM to 904-633-2402 for a link to watch the documentary with no commercials.

Thirteen local high schools have asked First Coast News to come show the documentary to their students. You can schedule a date for your school or group. Just contact anchor Jeannie Blaylock at jblaylock@firstcoastnews.com

We will bring the documentary to show and Vietnam veterans to answer questions and talk about their experiences. 

Applause to First Coast High for bringing respect to our Vietnam veterans.

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