Vietnam veterans were honored at AAFES locations around the world on Thursday, in celebration of National Vietnam War Veterans Day.
At the U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria, more than a dozen veterans were awarded pins and were served cake at the front of the post exchange.
“We invited Vietnam veterans from around the area to come in and be recognized on behalf of a grateful nation,” said Carrie Cammel, the general manager of the USAG Bavaria exchanges.
This National Vietnam War Veterans Day marks the anniversary of the end of the conflict. Many of the troops who fought there returned home to a nation that largely did not appreciate their service.
“I think this is a great way to celebrate the Vietnam-era veterans, who did not get a good welcome home 50 years ago, when they came home,” said James Federline.
“It feels good to be here, and be recognized for what we went through,” said Vietnam veteran Don Cannon. “I think AAFES has done a very outstanding job in supporting us.”
The 58,200 servicemembers who lost their lives or are still missing in action from that conflict also are being remembered, said the garrison command sergeant major, Command Sgt. Maj. Micheal Sutterfield.
Although estimates of total casualties vary widely, at least 1.5 million people — most of them civilians — died in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos between 1955 and 1975.
“It’s important that we don’t forget their sacrifices. Today’s veterans owe them for their service, and we are reaping the benefits of their hard work,” Sutterfield said. “They went through a lot, for us. And they honor us with their presence here.”
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