HAVELOCK — Fifteen Vietnam War veterans received Vietnam lapel pins Thursday evening in commemoration of their service and the upcoming second National Vietnam War Veterans Day.
The ceremony was part of a regular meeting of the Marine Corps League Detatchment 1067, held at Cherry Point’s Miller’s Landing.
MCAS Cherry Point Commander Col. Todd Ferry spoke for the event, recalling his days flying a CH-46 helicopter. He related the history of his command helicopter, which had been severely damaged in Vietnam War campaigns in 1968, some years before he himself flew it.
The colonel then passed out commemorative pins that are being given out this year to veterans who served at any time on active duty in the Armed Forces between November 1, 1955, and May 15, 1975.
National Vietnam War Veterans Day was signed into effect on March 28 by President Donald Trump and is observed March 29. The local chapter of the Marine Corps League decided to hand out the awards Thursday, however, to take advantage of their regular March meeting time.
Recipients were General Tom Braatan, retired, Lt. Col. Ron Ambrose, retired, Jerry Brown, Dan Macsay, Ron DeGeare, Don Getman, Mike McCulley, Dan Smith, Richard Shirley, Bob Warren, Bobby Holt, Sonia Macsay, Marry Warren, Hank Gottard and Bill Hodge.
Master Gunnery Sgt. Al LaPointe, retired, was also recognized for his service from 1964 to 1994. LaPointe received the Navy Cross during his time in service with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines from June 1964-July 1966.
The pin displays an eagle surrounded by a blue band and laurel wreath, along with six stars representing the six allies who fought in the war: Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea, Thailand and the United States.
On back of the pin is the message “A grateful nation thanks and honors you.”
U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War officially lasted from 1965 to 1973. More than 8 million troops served around the world during the war with over 58,000 killed in action and another 304,000 wounded.
When the soldiers returned, national protests resulted in most receiving no recognition for their service.