Vietnam-era veterans honored
Last updated 4/2/2021 at 10:50am
Monday, March 29, was National Vietnam War Veterans Day, which recognizes veterans who served in the Vietnam War. The date marks the day in 1973 that the last U.S. forces left Vietnam.
This year, the Pikes Peak National Cemetery (10545 Drennan Road) hosted a ceremony to honor Vietnam veterans.
Representatives from American Legion Post 209, the Colorado Patriot Guard Riders (CPGR), and The Retired Enlisted Association (TREA) came to the event. The ceremony began at 11 a.m. with Roger DeLosh, who serves on the Board of Directors for TREA Chapter 1, introducing the event. Chaplain Glenn Thompson from American Legion 209 gave an opening prayer, followed by a three-volley salute and a playing of the bugle by American Legion 209's troop of Honor Guards. DeLosh gave a short summary of the Vietnam War and introduced American Legion Post 209 representative Art Kimbrel. Kimbrel talked about his Vietnam service in 1969. He recalled initially joining the Air Force to avoid being called up for active Army service in Vietnam, then ultimately being stationed in Vietnam from 1969 to 1970.
"We had a lot of sweat and tragedy, and sweat," he remarked. Kimbrel also remembered the lack of appreciation for military members at the time.
"We were told to change clothes at the airport, so people wouldn't know we were military," he said. "I was spit on, called 'baby killer' and a lot of other not nice things. We loved our country, but our country didn't love us."
After Kimbrel's speech, six Vietnam veterans were called one by one and received Vietnam Veteran lapel pins issued by the Department of Defense. Skyler Holmes, director for Pikes Peak National Cemetery, helped give out the pins and the accompanying certificates. The following veterans received pins:
Ronald Dale Elston (U.S. Navy)
Leroy Trusty (not specified)
John Hoffman (U.S. Navy)
John Francis Casey (U.S. Army and National Guard)
James Stewart (U.S. Air Force)
Robert Turano (U.S. Navy)
Another veteran, Roy M. Langford (branch not specified), was hoping to attend the event but was not able to. John "Jack" Casey not only received a pin, but was also one of the CPGR representatives who served as the flag line for the event.
"I thought it was a very nice ceremony," Casey said. "It honored Vietnam veterans and Vietnam-era veterans... I appreciated being part of it."
DeLosh thanked all the veterans for attending and encouraged them to tell other veterans about this event and similar ones. He also highlighted that events like these also honor the widows of veterans, and encouraged those present to get involved in the Vietnam veteran support communities. Thompson then stepped forward to give a closing prayer, but took a moment beforehand to note the strong wind which had been blowing throughout the ceremony. The wind had made it difficult to hear much of what people were saying, but Thompson observed that it also had an interesting side effect.
"The wind has kept blowing, so that you can see the flag you fought for [flying in] the sky," Thompson told the veterans.
March 29, 2012, was listed as Vietnam Veterans Day under a proclamation by President Barack Obama. When President Donald Trump signed the Vietnam War Recognition Act into law in 2017, March 29 became National Vietnam War Veterans Day, an annual event along with appropriate ceremonies.
To find out more about TREA Chapter 1 and its resources to support and commemorate veterans, go to trea1.org. For information about Pikes Peak National Cemetery, go to cem.va.gov/cems/nchp/PikesPeak.asp. For more about CPGR, go to coloradopgr.org.
Learn more about the Vietnam War commemoration campaign at https://www.vietnamwar50th.com/