HARKER HEIGHTS — Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 1000 hosted its second annual National Vietnam Veterans Day Commemorative Breakfast on Friday at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3892 in Harker Heights.
Regarding the national Vietnam Veterans Day, there’s a major significance involving March 29. That’s the date in 1973 when the last 2,500 combat troops were withdrawn from South Vietnam, as well as when the last of the Vietnam War prisoners arrived on U.S. soil. Also, that’s the date Vietnam Veterans Day was declared in 2012.
“What we try to do is celebrate the soldiers who came home and memorialize those who didn’t,” said Willie Williams with the VFW post.
Approximately 30 people came to the breakfast that featured an invocation from Chapter President Victor Wiggins, and speeches given by Williams and Marty Martinez. During the ceremony, Jess Hamilton was recognized with a Quilt of Valor. Hamilton, who has attended all but one of the unaccompanied veteran funerals at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery, spoke of his reasons for being there for veterans that he has never even met.
“It’s something that needs to be done and I just love to be there for them,” Hamilton said. “These guys don’t have anybody. But when you sign up for the military, you all sign up together you are all brothers.”
Wiggins said his friends and mentor returning to Bay City from Vietnam were spit on and were told to take off their uniforms. But Wiggins hopes that people learn from what transpired with Vietnam, to not forget, and to help those who are still here.
“We were just doing our job, we were just following orders.” said Wiggins. “We wanted to get back to our wives and our families. And when you see a Vietnam veteran, take the time out to appreciate them, be kind to them, help them get the benefits that they deserve and are entitled to. But most importantly, when you thank them for their service really mean it.”