Ya-ta-hey members, front row from left: Chuck Lynch, Leroy Hernandez, Joe Kneifel, Tom Rivera and Mike Cain. Middle row: Rick Volcher and Rod Verhagen. Back row: Marv Donnelly, Keith Williams and Roy Bay. Not pictured: Al Redden, Howard Hunt, Joe Trujillo, Larry Erickson and Chuck Chapman.
Each month, a group called Patriot Packages meets at 5 p.m. on the third Tuesday to send care packages to local soldiers who are deployed overseas, from the Paul R. Martin Post 279 American Legion Hall in Hershey. Ya-Ta-Hey members, a local group of veterans who share brotherhood and friendship that developed long after serving their country, recently donated more than $250 to help continue this effort, because Ya-Ta-Hey members know what it is like to endure months if not years of a life overseas without family or comforts of home.
In the Navajo language, Yá át tééh(pronounced "ya-ta-HEY") expresses "it is good" as in "it is good to see you" or "it is good to meet you.”
Two veterans in the group met by chance on a street in North Platte and one of them realized that the other man had saved his life years before in Vietnam.
Two other members knew of each other but were not well acquainted until they met at a Vietnam veterans reunion, where they realized they had fought on the same hill in Cambodia.
These veterans and others joined to form the group they have deemed the 'Ya-Ta-Hey' Club. They meet monthly at the VFW in North Platte, at 5 p.m. on the last Wednesday of each month, welcoming all veterans regardless of branch of service.
'Ya-Ta-Hey' was formed after the 'Traveling Vietnam Wall' or 'Healing Wall' as some refer to it, made a stop in North Platte during the Vietnam Veterans reunion in August 2003.
Many of these veterans rarely speak of their personal experiences of war, but the close-knit group shares meals, refreshments, some selective memories, and gives consideration to charitable causes such as Patriot Packages.
For information pertaining to 'Ya-Ta-Hey,' call Chuck Lynch at 308-530-0074.
Thanks to Bulletin reader Barb Baldridge for this report.