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Honoring our Vietnam Veterans

Vietnam Veterans in attendance at the ceremony – (back row L-R): Billie Blaydes, Bill Lytle, Jack Rutter, Teddy Ray Pedigo, David Smith, and Doyle Cooper; (front row L-R): Danny Cassady, Terry Garrett, Floyd B. Fields, Owen Luckey, Jr., Donald Lloyd, and Herbert Franklin. Photo by PJ Martin

By PJ Martin


The Herald-News


On Friday, March 29th at noon a group assembled at the courthouse yard to honor the Vietnam veterans of Metcalfe County in a ceremony held by VFW Post 6281.

The announcement for the event said it best:

They served, they fought, and they died…and received neither their country’s glory nor their country’s compassion. May this remembrance ceremony serve as a special tribute and reverence to those who served in the Republic of Vietnam War from Dec 1961 to Mar 1973.

Jameah Kirby reading her speech and a poem for the veterans. Photo by PJ Martin

Col. Bill Lytle opened the ceremony and the Pledge of Allegiance was recited before turning the podium over to Charles Costello who presented the following information from a study by the Veterans Administration. There was one last speaker, although she arrived late, young Jameah Kirby read something special she wrote for the veterans. Jameah lost her grandfather who was a veteran late last year.

The first man to die in Vietnam was James Davis in 1961. He was with the 509th Radio Research Station. The last American soldier to die was Air Force Sgt. John O’Neil Rucker just 72 hours before the cease-fire.

There were 58,148 killed in Vietnam, 75,000 severely disabled, 23,214 were 100% disabled, 5,283 lost limbs, and 1,081 suffered multiple amputations. The average age of the men/women who died in the Vietnam War is only 23.1 years old.

There were 9,087,000 military personnel who served on active duty during the official Vietnam era from August 5, 1964, to May 7, 1975. Notice the official dates fail to cover the entire period.

As of April 14, 2017, there are 1,611 Americans still unaccounted for from the Vietnam War across Vietnam (1,258), Laos (297), Cambodia (49), and China (7). That is 1,611 MIAs whose families have no closure.

On March 29, 1973, the last American combat soldier, Master Sgt. Max Beilke left Vietnam thus completing the American military withdrawal.

In 2012, President Barack Obama proclaimed March 29, 2012, as Vietnam Veterans Day. On March 28, 2017, President Donald Trump signed the Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act of 2017. This act officially recognizes March 29 as National Vietnam War Veterans Day.

In 2017, former Governor of Kentucky, Matt Bevin signed a Proclamation that listed the loss of men and women in the Vietnam War as over 58,000. Of those, 1,103 were from Kentucky and there are over 125,000 Vietnam Veterans in Kentucky.

Those veterans deserve our utmost respect, support, and appreciation for the horrors of war that they had to endure for us. It’s time they got their welcome home and a great big thank you from all of us.

A new documentary was released on Friday, March 29, 2024, entitled National Vietnam War Veterans Day.

 The documentary, filmed and produced by U.S. Army veteran Nicholas Mott, owner of Seven Five Media, is available at no cost on Wreaths Across America’s YouTube channel. Mott said of the documentary, “I hope other Vietnam veterans will watch it and find it healing.”

In an email sent by Wreaths Across America to announce the documentary, the scenario is explained. In November of 2023, ten Vietnam veterans who have made a living in the transportation industry were offered a trip back to Vietnam after 50 years. The trip was called the Mission Veteran Expedition.

The Veterans toured the grounds of the Former Saigon Embassy, took a walking street tour through Ho Chi Minh City, and took the Cu Chi Tunnels and Mekong Delta Luxury Tour. They also toured the War Remnants Museum the Defense POW / MIA Accounting Agency and finally received a ‘Welcome Home’ ceremony hosted at Sirius XM studios in Hollywood, with interviews on Radio Nemo.

The documentary was a collaborative venture between CDLLife, FASTPORT, and nonprofits Waypoint Vets and Wreaths Across America.

Perhaps Vietnam veterans who watch the documentary can find a bit of peace for themselves as they watch those ten veterans on their journey through the past and present.

All the veterans who attended gathered around the war memorial prior to the ceremony. Photo by PJ Martin


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