Troop Support employees help welcome home Vietnam vets

By Mikia Muhammad DLA Troop Support Public Affairs

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The welcome home was worth the 50-year wait, one veteran said following a Vietnam War Commemoration program March 29 at the Pennsylvania National Guard Armory in Philadelphia.

More than 400 Vietnam War era veterans were cheered as they paraded down a red-carpet into a ceremony where they received commemorative pins from senior military officers and personalized certificates.

The event was sponsored by the Association of the United States Army. Vietnam War Commemoration partners Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support and the Corporal Michael J. Crescenz Veterans Affairs Medical Center also helped coordinate the event.

Nearly nine million Americans served during the Vietnam War era, from 1955 to 1975, and didn’t receive the warm welcome home they deserved, master of ceremonies Ronald D. Castille said. Castille is a former chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and a Vietnam veteran.

DLA Troop Support Commander Army Brig. Gen. Charles Hamilton spearheaded the event and said it is just a small way to thank Vietnam veterans for their service.

“What you don’t realize is that you inspired a nation,” Hamilton said. “You inspired the young soldiers, the men and women who serve today to go out to be fearless and courageous.”

Keynote speaker retired Army Lt. Gen. Jerry Sinn posed the question whether the U.S. won or lost the Vietnam War. Sinn served in Vietnam and eventually became the Army’s senior budget officer.

The Vietnam veterans in the audience cheered ‘yes,’ to Sinn’s question. And Sinn agreed.

Sinn further answered the question, saying that success is determined by achieving the goals of political leadership. By helping to stop the spread of communism, Sinn said that Vietnam vets did achieve U.S. leaders’ political goals.

“My only message is, ‘way to go, you won,’” Sinn said. “What you do in life matters and will echo through the generations.”

Vietnam veterans in attendance expressed sincere gratitude for the event in their honor.

“I just thought the experience was terrific. I felt humbled,” Vietnam veteran Ed Hackett said. “(Thanks) were given again and again, and greatly appreciated by me.”

Family members of Vietnam veterans also attended the event, including some who accepted the accolades on behalf of fallen service members.

“(My father) was always proud of his service,” said Parris Sandlin, a DLA Troop Support contracting officer in Industrial Hardware. “But my mom always told me that [Vietnam veterans] didn’t get recognized for their service and that really makes me appreciative of this event.

During the ceremony, Sandlin and his family members carried a portrait of his father, who served in the Army from 1971 to 1973 and passed away in 2013.

More than 100 DLA employees, military service members and Temple University Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets served as volunteers to help welcome the Vietnam veterans during the program.

DLA Aviation employee Nancy Staich even danced with a few veterans as the USO Show Troupe performed tunes from the Vietnam War era.

“It was to honor to recognize and support our Vietnam service members long forgotten yet I was the one so enriched by the experience,” Staich said. “Many of the vets shared their heartfelt appreciation. The warmth and acknowledgement touched their heart and lifted their spirits.”

The Vietnam War Commemoration is a Department of Defense program with the mission of thanking and honoring Vietnam veterans and their families for their service and sacrifice on behalf of the United States, according to its website.

National nonprofit A Hero’s Welcome provided the personalized certificates to veterans, in addition to hand-embroidered stars from retired American flags.

Click on this link to watch a video highlighting the event.