color guard members Brett Osborn, Erick Moore, Paul Christensen and Marc Robinson with the U.S. flag. (Photos courtesy of Thomas "Chip" Daniel)
On 26 March 2022, the Colonel James Wood II Chapter of the Virginia Society conducted a ceremony to commemorate National Vietnam Veterans Day at the Veterans Memorial, Middletown, VA. In 2017, U.S. Senators Pat Toomey and Joe Donnelly introduced legislation to honor Vietnam Veterans with a Day. The Vietnam War was a long, costly and divisive conflict. U.S. involvement began in 1954 after the French lost the Battle of Dien Bien Phu, ending a century of rule in Indochina. Vietnam was split at 17 degrees north latitude. By 1957, a civil war was in full swing. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy began a stronger involvement. By 1962 there were 9,000 U.S. troops in South Vietnam. As a result of a coup in South Vietnam, the political instability persuaded President Lyndon Johnson to further increase U.S. support. In August 1964, two U.S. destroyers were attacked and the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was passed giving Johnson broad war making powers. By June 1965, 82,000 combat troops were in country with increases of 100,000 in July 1965 and again in 1966. Approximately 2,700,000 American men and women served and for the first time, America failed to welcome its veterans home, as opposition to the war in the United States bitterly divided Americans. In 1973, President Richard Nixon signed the Paris Peace Accords and ordered the withdrawal of U.S. forces. On 29 March 1973, U.S. combat and combat support units were withdrawn from South Vietnam. For almost two decades, Americans had raised their right hands and committed to serve and defend our Constitution as uniformed members of the United States Armed Forces during a tumultuous period in our country’s history. Throughout the years of the Vietnam War, 9 million Americans earned the title of United States veteran. Returning veterans did not always receive the deserved respect for serving the country. Over 58,000 did not return and are duly recognized on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, DC. Every service member of the Vietnam generation should know their sacrifices mattered and their service made a difference. On 28 March 2017, President Donald Trump signed the National Vietnam War Veterans Day Act, calling for 29 March to be a day of recognition of the service and duty rendered by all servicemen and women of this era. Today and every day, we now honor the bravery and commitment of a generation of Americans who valiantly fought in service of the country they love and recognize the continuing impact of the veterans of the Vietnam conflict, including their families, caregivers and survivors. Dale Corey emceed the commemoration with a color guard commanded by compatriot Brett Osborn and included Paul Christensen, Thomas "Chip" Daniel, Kelly Ford, Erick Moore, Patrick Moore, Nathan Poe, Tom Reed, William Reynolds, Eric Robinson, Marc Robinson and Mike St Jacques. Virginia Society First Vice President Ernie Coggins led the Pledge of Allegiance with Rev Jim Simmons providing chaplain service. A grateful thank you is given to the town of Middletown and Mayor Charles Harbaugh for providing us the opportunity to honor and commemorate Vietnam veterans.
Colonel James Wood II color guard commanded by Brett Osborn. Second photo is Dale Corey presenting a commemoration to Vietnam Veterans.