Veterans

April 4, 2012

Vietnam veterans welcomed home – finally

Tags:
by Sharilyn Wells
Army News
Army photograph by Sharilyn Wells
A Vietnam veteran wipes tears from his eyes at the Vietnam Veterans Homecoming celebration March 31, 2012, at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Charlotte, N.C., as he listens to Charlie Daniels' rendition of "Pray for Bobby." The event drew more than 60,000 veterans, family members and friends.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Friends were reunited; stories were told, and memories were honored on a day that many Vietnam veterans never thought they’d see – a day set aside specially for them to be properly welcomed home – almost 40 years later.

“It was hell over there,” James ‘Quincy’ Collins, retired Air Force colonel and former prisoner of war, told the crowd. “And it was even worse when we came home to a nation who didn’t appreciate us or what we did over there. Spending more than seven years as a prisoner of war I truly know what freedom is really about. And today is a day for us.”

The Vietnam Veterans Homecoming Celebration in Charlotte, N.C., drew more than 60,000 veterans, family members and friends to the Charlotte Motor Speedway, March 31. The event was sponsored by the raceway, the N.C. Association of Broadcasters and the USO of North Carolina. According to John Falkenbury, a retired Army lieutenant colonel and president of the USO-North Carolina, the event served three purposes.

“The first, is to celebrate and you’re going to rock and roll this afternoon,” Falkenbury said to the crowd. “Second, it’s about assisting all veterans. We have the Veterans Affairs here and numerous VA non-profits here to help you out. And third is to educate our youngsters. There are Vietnam placards and veterans everywhere – talk to them, learn from history.”

Along with all the vendors lending out a helping hand, the event also hosted entertainers, country music artists, Rockie Lynne and Charlie Daniels, as well as George Clinton and the Parliament Funkadelics. There were performances by the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing Band, the 82nd Airborne Division All-American Chorus, the Golden Knights and the Ranger Veterans Parachute Team, while Soldiers from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 18th Fires Brigade, 11th Quartermaster Company, showcased modern-day military weapons and equipment in static displays. But for most, the replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall was the highlight of the event.

“He was only 19 years old when he was killed,” explained Mike McCarthy, a Navy veteran. “My big brother was a lance corporal in the Marine Corps and was killed in action, May 16, 1967.”

McCarthy, with his wife, Terrie, posed for a photo while standing in front of the wall memorial holding a photo of his brother, Whilton McCarthy.

“You know, my other brother was a Marine too,” said McCarthy. “My momma got a little nervous and when I said I wanted to join (the military) she told me to go Navy.”

“We also have two babies in the service,” Terrie proudly said. “My daughter is in the Navy and has served three tours to Iraq, and my son is a Marine. It’s absolutely amazing what they’re doing for all of these guys, absolutely amazing.”

For former Sgt. Charles Smith, 25th Signal Brigade, XVIII Airborne Corps, the memorial wall gave him closure and a chance to properly say goodbye to a friend.

“He was a private back then, John Peacock. We went to basic training together. He … he never came back. The last time I saw him was when we were shipped off. It’s an honor to have served with him and others, and an honor to be here with them,” Smith said.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Hagel orders overhaul of POW/MIA identification agencies

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced March 31 that he’s ordered an overhaul of the Pentagon agencies responsible for recovering and identifying the remains of America’s war dead. The reorganization seeks to consolidate the mission, improve efficiency and increase the number of remains identified by the two key agencies charged with POW-MIA accounting efforts — the...
 
 

Half of vets on G.I. Bill graduate, report estimates

A little more than half of the veterans who got college money under the GI Bill since 2009 eventually graduated, though many took longer to do it, a new study estimates. The report released March 214 estimated that 51.7 percent of student veterans earned a degree or certificate for some kind of higher education. That’s...
 
 

Veterans unemployment rate dropped in 2013

The unemployment rate for Iraq- and Afghanistan-era veterans dropped in 2013, according to Labor Department statistics announced March 20. The unemployment rate fell to 9 percent last year for veterans who served on active duty since September 2001. The jobless rate for all veterans also edged down to 6.6 percent. Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez...
 

 

Soldier missing from Vietnam War accounted for

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced March 18 that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing from the Vietnam War, were recently accounted for and will be buried in a group burial ceremony. Army SSgt. Lawrence Woods of Clarksville, Tenn., will be buried as part of group on March 21, at Arlington National...
 
 

Care, benefits for vets strengthened by $164 billion VA budget

Continuing the transformation of the Department of Veterans Affairs into a 21st century organization, the president has proposed a $163.9 billion budget, a 6.5 percent increase over fiscal year 2014, that will support VAís goals to expand access to health care and other benefits, eliminate the disability claims backlog, and end homelessness among veterans. The...
 
 

Upcoming reunions

April 2-6 15th Med Bn 1st Cav Div. Orlando, Fla. For more information about this reunion, contact Leo Williams at (407) 277-5763 or email dragin52@hotmail.com.   April 3-5 4th Bn 39th Inf Rgt 9th Inf Div (Vietnam, 1966-1969) San Antonio, Texas For more information about this reunion, contact Jim Haines at (303) 809-1815 or email...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>