April 2, 2019 – Service members and guests paid tribute to the service and sacrifice of Vietnam War veterans during the National Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Day commemoration at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story (JEBLC).
The ceremony, hosted by the Hampton Roads Naval Museum, was signed into law by President Donald Trump in 2017 with the Vietnam War Veteran Recognition Act, recognizing the U.S. military veterans who served during the Vietnam War.
Guest speaker Rear Adm. Jesse Wilson Jr., commander, Naval Surface Forces Atlantic, provided the opening remarks, reflecting on how service members were not always thanked for their service and sometimes not treated well when they returned.
“It’s because we stand on the shoulders of those giants that we now go out and that tune has changed,” said Wilson. “People tell you thank you for your service. It’s because of what they did.”
This year’s ceremony included a rededication of the Game Wardens of Vietnam (GWVN) Association East Coast monument and a refurbished patrol boat, which contains the names of 290 Sailors of the “Brown Water Navy,” who patrolled the rivers and canals of the Mekong Delta during the Vietnam conflict. The monument stands in its fifth and final location since its original dedication in August 1980.
Keynote speaker Capt. (ret’d) Eddie Lee Duckworth, a U.S. Navy Vietnam War veteran, spoke of his experiences.
“Back then, there was much controversy surrounding the draft and little joint-ness existed between the services,” said Duckworth. “We had very few international partners and social media was non-existent.”
The Vietnam War took place November 1955 through April 1975 and was fought between communist North Vietnam and the government of Southern Vietnam. Many of those who served in Vietnam were drafted, unlike the all-volunteer military of today.
“Together, here today, we honor those who answer the nations call to duty and let us never forget their sacrifice and faithful service,” said Wilson.
The ceremony concluded with the historical ringing of the bell and a flag presentation to GWVN, Mid-Atlantic Chapter to pay tribute to those who gave their lives.