It has become an annual tradition at the National Training Center and Fort Irwin to honor the legacy of Vietnam War Veterans. One way this installation does that is through a ceremony and the other is with support from a remarkable friend of the military.
On April 10, this post will hold the “We Will Not Forget” ceremony that honors Vietnam War era Veterans. Up to 300 Veterans are expected to arrive and participate in the event.
And just recently, actor and military supporter, Gary Sinise made his third visit to the community here to rock-out with his group, The Lt. Dan Band. The band is named after the iconic character he portrayed in the movie “Forrest Gump.” Sinise has been involved with Veterans issues for years; his organization, the Gary Sinise Foundation (www.garysinisefoundation.org), raises money and builds homes for severely wounded Veterans.
“I am dedicated to serving our men and women who sacrifice so much for our freedom,” Sinise told the audience at the March 9 concert, here. “I appreciate everything you do for us every day and I want you to know that there are people out there who appreciate what you do. After Vietnam, it was a shame the way Veterans were treated and we can never, ever let that happen again.”
Sinise brought along his friend and Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, Drew Dennis Dix. Dix retired as a major in the Army in 1982. But before receiving a direct commission, which converted his staff sergeant chevrons to a silver bar, he performed courageous actions in Vietnam in 1968 that earned him the highest of medals. His award citation details the actions he performed while saving the lives of 14 civilians in the city of Chau Phu, just days into the Tet Offensive by the Viet Cong.
Dix has traveled with Sinise to other military installations, and during a past radio interview in Hawaii while visiting Schofield Barracks, he spoke about the significance of his award. He said that he feels that Medal of Honor recipients wear the medal for everybody. He stated that many deeds go unnoticed and it is because of the bravery of others, as well, that he is able to be here.
“I tell other Vietnam Veterans that they should be proud of their service,” Dix said during the radio interview. “The greatest honor is to fight for your country in war and the second greatest is to honor those who have fought for others.”
Those who wear the uniform and serve at the NTC and Fort Irwin will soon have the chance to fulfill both of the mantras that Dix lives by. The April 10 ceremony is an opportunity for paying homage to a generation of Warfighters who didn’t get the full recognition after coming home from the jungles of Vietnam.