Vietnam vets honored in anniversary ceremony
The town of Waynesville and Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 980 hosted a "Welcome Home, Vietnam Veterans" Day at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 29, in front of the Haywood County Courthouse. Veterans, supporters and family members stood in the rain and paid tribute to the to the fallen, the wounded, the missing in action and the prisoners of war.
Rick Strubeck, Chapter 980 director, acted as the master of ceremonies and began by reading a proclamation from the governor’s office, declaring March 29, 2014, as Vietnam Veterans Recognition Day to honor North Carolina’s Vietnam War veterans and those who lost their lives in the conflict.
“The state of North Carolina has 1,609 names listed on the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C.,” said Strubeck, reading from the proclamation. “And 43 North Carolinians are still listed as “Missing in Action” in Southeast Asia.”
The guest speaker was Sgt. 1st Class Earl Reece, Army, ret., and current North Carolina state secretary of Vietnam Veterans of America.
“It’s been such a long time in coming,” said Reece, speaking of the statewide day of recognition. “We know our country forgot about us and the Korean vets.”
Reece spoke of the welcome Vietnam vets received when they returned from the war and of the hard work Vietnam veterans, their families and supporters have put in over the years to give proper recognition and respect for the Vietnam and Korean veterans who served their country.
It is because of these efforts, said Reece, that the country will not mistreat the veterans coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Never again will one generation of veterans be left behind,” said Reece.
Debbie Caldwell, of the Haywood County Veterans Service Office, and Tom Curtis, Chapter 980 director, placed a ceremonial wreath next to the Vietnam War monument.
Jerry Warren, Chapter 980 president, read the names of the Haywood County veterans who lost their lives during the war, and a moment of silence was observed.
The American Legion Post 47 Honor Guard gave a gun salute, followed by “Taps,” performed by Pisgah High School sophomores Ricky Beasley and Josh Toney.