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Local groups to commemorate Vietnam Veterans Memorial Day

March 29 is Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Day.

March 29 is the day in 1975 the U.S. government announced they’d begin pulling troops out of Vietnam, and President Barak Obama made that date Memorial Day for Vietnam Veterans in 2014.

The West Tennessee Veterans’ Coalition, Madison County chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and local leaders invite the public to a commemoration ceremony on Friday at 10 a.m. at the VFW on Airways Boulevard, just west of Downtown Jackson near the Hollywood Drive intersection.

“This is something that needed to happen for years because every other war our military has fought in, they’ve always come home to the welcome home they should get,” said Jackie Utley, one of the coordinators of the event with both organizations. “But because of the political climate in our country at the time of the fighting in Vietnam, our soldiers came home and got no parades, no welcome home, no banners and it was a real shame.”

Larry Newsome was a soldier who was a part of the medical unit in Vietnam that wasn’t part of the actual fighting, but taking injured soldiers to their nearest medical facility and helping them heal or getting them home. He experienced that less-than-welcoming return, but he said there could be different reasons for it.

“Of course, there was a lot of disagreement with our occupation over there, and I get that,” Newsome said. “But Vietnam was very different in other ways too.

“That was the only military operation that I know of where soldiers were sent to the battle area for a year or two as just one or two or a small group of soldiers and not entire battalions or companies like we’ve seen with our recent wars. So I do wonder if things maybe might’ve been different if everybody back home was welcoming home entire large groups and not just a few here and there that were simply flying back from somewhere in Asia.”

Any Vietnam War-period veteran who has not received the Vietnam War 50th Commemoration lapel pin and/or certificate of honor may request either or both to be presented during the ceremony on March 29. Send your name for the certificate and your branch of service to jutleydar@gmail.com or by text with the information to 731-668-5409.

Brandon Shields, brandon@jacksonpost.news

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