JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. –
Members from the 316th Wing honored Vietnam War veterans on base for Vietnam War Veterans Day, March 29, 2021.
March 29 marked the last day American troops departed Vietnam in 1973. The annual observance day was established in 2012 as the day to honor the millions of veterans who returned from war to their home country and did not receive assistance or respect.
Col. Tyler Schaff, 316th WG and installation commander, spoke to those in attendance inside the Army and Air Force Exchange Service atrium where the event was held.
“Welcome to JBA, I’m honored to stand here and speak in front of our military heroes who came before us,” said Schaff. “This day is to honor you and remember the sacrifices you gave for our country.”
More than 58,000 Americans were killed and 300,000 injured during the war, which left 75,000 veterans severely disabled.
“This day is to offer the respect that is deserved to those who received none when returning home,” said Schaff. “So, 48 years ago today was the last of the combat troops to depart Vietnam…and every time I see one of those hats, I always make it a point to say thank you.”
The veterans represented most of the military branches; many arrived by bus from the Old Soldiers’ Home in Washington. The home has more than 300 veteran residents who live on a 270-acre site inside of the city’s boundaries.
“This is their first time out of the Old Soldier’s Home since last year before COVID,” said Stephanie Wilson, AAFES General Manager. “We wanted to invite them to the base because many of them have never been to JBA and we are so honored to have them here.”
As the veterans walked inside the Exchange, they were greeted with warm welcomes from the AAFES staff, other veterans and military members. Several veteran support agencies from the local area were also present.
After Schaff gave his speech, each of the Vietnam veterans were called up to receive coins and pins of recognition.
Following the ceremony, the veterans shared their stories and experiences along with their own memorabilia with attendees individually. One such Army Vietnam veteran was adorned in his Service Uniform and brought with him old photographs and medals he earned.