MONTGOMERY – On Sunday, March 29, Americans will honor those men and women that served our country during the Vietnam War on National Vietnam War Veterans Day.
The troops who served in Vietnam, beginning in 1955, persevered though some of the most brutal conditions ever faced by Americans in war. The suffocating heat, the drenching rains, an enemy that could come out of nowhere and vanish just as quickly, come of the most intense urban combat in history, and battles for a single hill that could rage for weeks.
Some American service members served as ground troops in a combat capacity, some were miles offshore in a Navy ship providing gunfire support, some were in the skies over Vietnam, while others provided necessary support roles.
As a nation, we have long celebrated the courage of our forces at Normandy and Iwo Jima, the Pusan Perimeter and Heartbreak Ridge. On March 29, we as Americans, are proud to speak of the Vietnam Veteran’s courage- at Hue, Khe Sanh, and Saigon, from Hamburger Hill to Rolling Thunder.
After many years of combat, all U.S. troops were withdrawn from Vietnam on March 30, 1973, under the terms of the Treaty of Paris, but at a heavy cost: More than 58,000 members of the U.S. Armed Forces lost their lives and more than 300,000 were wounded in Vietnam.
This story of our Vietnam servicemembers needs to be told. This day is another opportunity to say to our Vietnam Veterans what we should have been saying from the beginning: You did your job. You served with honor. You made us proud. You came home and you helped build the America that we love and that we cherish.
On National Vietnam War Veterans Day, we recognize all servicemen and women of this era, and thank them for their honorable service.
Rear Admiral, (ret.), United States Navy
Commissioner, Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs