Blind Central Illinois veteran finds closure at Vietnam Wall, encourages others to participate on Greater Peoria Honor Flight


Morton, Ill.– It’s an influential photo named a healing touch. One that resonates with people all across Central Illinois in a touching way.

Of the five senses, it doesn’t take all of them to make sense of this compelling photo. A guide’s hand on top of a blind three-time purple heart Central Illinois Vietnam veteran touching the name of a brother lost in combat.

“When Rosemary [Darrell’s guide] put my hand on his name I could see his face in my mind and I finally got to say goodbye to my buddy,” said Darrell Burtsfield, Vietnam Veteran.


“When I got to that real wall, I was totally more or less a shock because it seemed like it went on and on forever,” said Burtsfield.


“There is no real end of [the wall],” said Burtsfield. “Until you come to the, like I did, at the [Vietnam] wall. That’s where it came to the end, where I finally got closure.”

Certainty. All things the Greater Peoria Honor Flight prides itself on giving veterans who gave so much for our country and freedoms.

We are a healing touch. I mean, these veterans a lot of them need closure. They need healing and whether it’s through physical scars, emotional scars, I think Honor Flight is a way for them to heal internally so that they can externally exude what Honor Flight meant to them.

Phyllis Piraino, Vice President, Founder | Greater Peoria Honor Flight

The photo named a healing touch was taken during the honor flight in October. It draws attention to just how extraordinary the organization’s mission is to give veterans a chance to see their memorial at no cost.

“It was a very emotional experience I think, definitely for him and for me too,” said Rosemary Bozo, Darrell’s Guide. “For veterans who have whatever ability, they need to understand that we will accommodate them.”

Even though Burtsfield lost his sight at 19, he said his four senses touch most of all allowed him to complete one last mission.

“A mission accomplished,” said Burtsfield. “To me, again, it took a big load off my shoulders. I finally got to say goodbye.”

He hopes other veterans see that a disability can’t outweigh the closure a trip like this can bring to Central Illinois veterans.

CLICK HERE to sign up for the Greater Peoria Honor Flight.

Tami Stieger is the photographer who captured the moment between Darrell and Rosemary. She also took the other photos used in this story.

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