Brainerd VFW Hosts Gathering for National Vietnam War Veterans Day
March 29th was National Vietnam War Veterans Day, a day to honor those who fought during the conflict that spanned three decades. 45 Vietnam veterans gathered at the VFW in Brainerd to celebrate the occasion while swapping stories with other men that shared the battlefield.
They told stories of the day they were drafted or enlisted, the first time they walked off the plane, the first time they saw combat, and what they did to pass the time when things got stale. But even more than all that was the feeling of acknowledgement. Many reminisced what it was like returning home, about how they were told to keep quiet, hide that they were soldiers, and try to just fit in as best they could. Michael Williams, who served as a Navy Corpsman from 1972-73, said, “I had a hard time with that, I still do.”
Vietnam was not a popular war, but the men who fought in the far-away conflict say they were simply following orders. Sgt. Mark Persons, who spent time in Vietnam from 1968-69, said that “the Army doesn’t make war, politicians do that, they sent us there and we just did our duty for our country.”
For those at the VFW, they finally felt like they were being acknowledged for serving their country.
“It’s fulfilling,” said Ole Johnson, who saw action in the 9th Cavalry from 1970-72. “It makes me feel really good to be recognized.”
“I’m proud of my service … I think I feel good about it, and I think a majority of the remaining Vietnam vets feel that way now,” said Sgt. David Meyer of the 101st Airborne and in Vietnam from 1968-1969.
This year’s Vietnam War Veterans Day also marked the 50th anniversary of the last U.S. troops returning home from Vietnam.
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