Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War will be held on June 19, 2015 at 5:30p.m. at Cottrell Field at Ft. Stewart, Georgia. This ceremony will be held to thank and honor our Vietnam Veterans and their families, to highlight the service of the Armed Forces and the contributions of Federal agencies and governmental and nongovernmental organizations, to pay tribute to the contributions made on the home front by the people of the United States; to highlight the advances in technology, science and medicine related to the military research conducted during the Vietnam War and to recognize contributions and sacrifices made by the allies of the United States during the Vietnam War. When soldiers returned from their tours of duty in Vietnam, coming home was a low-key affair — and it was planned that way.
Soldiers recall landing at U.S. military bases with other soldiers and being quickly whisked to the post-exchange store to buy civilian clothes, then booking a civilian flight or a bus ticket home.
“You couldn’t wear the uniform” in public, said Chaffee, now a Georgia chapter president of the Vietnam Veterans of America. But he said fresh crew cuts on returning soldiers still made them easy targets for Americans who opposed the Vietnam War and sometimes took out their hostility on service members. “I got spit on. A lot of times I had people come up in my face.”
Now, as Americans mark the 50th anniversary of the divisive Vietnam conflict, Chaffee and others in southeast Georgia are planning to give fellow Vietnam veterans the kind of homecoming celebration they never had.
On Friday, June 19, Vietnam vets and their families are invited to Fort Stewart for a ceremony at its parade grounds at Cottrell Field. Veterans will ride to the site by bus, passing relatives and supporters cheering them from the roadside. Finally, they’ll line up in formation and march onto the field to more cheers and the waving of flags and signs from the bleachers.
The belated homecoming is patterned after the welcome Fort Stewart troops have received for the past 12 years as units returned from deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Veterans groups have played a large part in celebrating the service of Fort Stewart soldiers, said post spokesman Kevin Larson, and commanders felt they owed Vietnam veterans something in return.
“It’s important that we say ‘welcome home, job well done,’ even if it is some 50 odd years later,” Larson said. “It’s incredible, the support they give today’s soldiers. So it’s only fair that we return that sense of honor, that we give it back to them for what they did.”Veteran organizations who would like more information please call 912 492- 0738 or (912) 767-3151. Veterans are asked to meet at Paul Smith Educational Center, at 4:30 p.m. which is located just outside the Main Gate to Ft. Stewart. Transportation will be provided to Cottrell Park.