Service. Valor. Sacrifice.
Robert Fitzgerald stated his appreciation for the ceremony and recognition. However, at the conclusion, Fitzgerald stood up and stated that he served during the war but never in country and offered a round of applause and gratitude for those in the room who did as well as those who never made it home.
There are approximately 140,000 Vietnam-era veterans residing in Missouri, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs).
Approximately 50 of those were present at the pinning ceremony organized by Chapter Vice President, CSM(R) Freddie Brock, to receive their commemorative lapel pin and certificate recognizing their service—part of the 50th anniversary commemoration program. The ceremony took place at the VFW Ozark Post 3176 in Waynesville, Missouri. The Waynesville High School JROTC presented the colors at the start of the ceremony. Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army, Keith Pritchard, was the guest speaker and each individual was pinned by AUSA Chapter President, Brennon Willard.
“We did not get it right when you came home the first time,” Pritchard said during his speech. “Our Nation continues to struggle with how. I am here on behalf of the Honorable Christine Wormuth, Secretary of the United States Army, to simply say thank you.”
Some of the veterans showed emotions during the ceremony and as they received their pin, each with an eagle, stars, and laurels on the front and a message on the back: “A grateful nation thanks and honors you.”
“It’s something small, but hopefully a symbol of our respect and thanks,” stated Willard.
The AUSA Fort Leonard Wood Mid-Missouri Chapter is a Vietnam Commemorative Partner as an organization to thank and honor our Vietnam veterans and their families for their service and sacrifice. Special commemorative pins are provided by the Department of Defense Vietnam War Commemoration program, which was launched in 2012 in anticipation of the 50th anniversary of the war’s end.
This conflict changed an entire generation of Americans. Approximately 9 million military served during the Vietnam-era and 58,000 died in hostile combat with 68% of those being under 22 years of age (Vietnam War Statistics). It is important to honor those we are able and not let the memory fade of our fallen war heroes. They all deserve our admiration and gratitude.
Pritchard concluded with, “Thank you for your service, mentorship, leadership, public, private, and military lives you continue to provide, serve, and give to our country. Thank you for all you’ve done.”
Following the pinning, all in attendance were invited to engage in fellowship with refreshments provided by Aligned Mortgage, Chapter Community Partner.