NGAUS Washington Report
(Sept. 3, 2013) An afternoon last week was a time for reflection on a war that spanned 10 years and cost the country the lives of more than 58,000 young men and women. It was also an occasion to honor and thank nine Vietnam War veterans who’d served a total of 14 tours in-country and 225 years in uniform.
Kicking off the Pentagon's first event commemorating the 50th anniversary of the conflict, Lt. Gen. Raymond V. Mason, Army deputy chief of staff for logistics, opened the ceremony at the Pentagon.
"Today, we are recognizing nine of our patriots and their families who stood up to the test of their generation and their decade," he said. "I think it's well overdue. Nothing is more important than pausing and reflecting on the sacrifices of what these great men and women did and those who gave their last full measure."
On March 8, 1965, America's ground war in Vietnam began when 3,500 Marines were deployed with the American public's support. By Christmas, nearly 200,000 soldiers, Marines, airmen and sailors were in the country. At war's end on April 30, 1975, nearly 3 million Americans had been on the ground, in the air and on rivers of Vietnam.
While the official 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War will be in 2015, the president and Congress requested the defense secretary begin planning the commemoration in 2007.
The goal is to get more than 10,000 corporations and civic groups, as well as government and community organizations, to join as partners and help sponsor hometown events to honor Vietnam veterans, their families and those who were prisoners of war and are missing in action.
To date, 4,921 commemorative partners have signed on, including Army logistics, which became the first.