A chance encounter between a car salesman at Dennis Eakin Kia of Killeen and a Vietnam veteran has led to roughly 100 Vietnam veterans being honored with service pins over the last couple of years.

Anthony Freeman, a car salesman at Dennis Eakin Kia of Killeen sold retired Army 1st Sgt. Eddie Bell a car 11 years ago and did not see him again for another nine years.

“He walked in the dealership and he was telling me about what he does with the Korean War Association,” Freeman said. “My daughter was graduating high school two years ago, and my father, a Vietnam veteran, was coming dowm to visit. I asked him if we could do a ceremony in my backyard for the family, and he said yes.”

After this ceremony they decided to do it for other veterans as well — honoring Vietnam veterans with special pin that commemorates their service in Vietnam.

“This is our way of saying ‘Welcome home Vietnam vets and it’s an honor to have you back here,” Bell said.

Eight Vietnam veterans were honored Wednesday at the Killeen dealership: Frank Beavers, Eddie Blue Jr., David P. Gruber, Otis M. Hill, Real Gautreau, Larry B. Person, Kenneth Thomas and Arthur Winans.

On Memorial Day 2012 President Barack Obama signed a proclamation titled “Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War”. This proclamation is a “... 13 year program to honor and give thanks to a generation of proud Americans who saw our country through one of the most challenging missions we have ever faced.”

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