OPELIKA, Ala.- In honor of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, Twin Cities Chapter 95 of DAV held a commemoration ceremony for Vietnam War Veterans.
The organizer of the event, Commander Wilbert Payne, Jr. was a part of a commemoration ceremony at Fort Mitchell, and he wanted to bring one to his home. The Department of Defense put on this program to thank the veterans for their service to our country, and give them the thank you they never received. Payne wanted his chapter of DAV to be a commemoration partner, and Thursday was the end result.
Nearly 200 veterans from all branches of the military were on hand to take part in the event.
Charles E. Stringer was one of the veterans in attendance. He served in the Army from 1962 to 1983. Stringer said he joined the military because he had a desire to travel. He was drafted. He said serving during Vietnam was very scary. He said there were times where he did not know if he would return home. When he did return home, he said it was a very strange feeling.
“It was if I had went over and killed the whole Vietnam War or something by myself,” Stringer said.
Another veteran in attendance was James F. Hughley. Hughley served in the Army from 1967 to 1969. He said when he was in Vietnam, most of the other men there were his age, and they all bonded with each other immediately because he said you never knew if that same person would save your live a couple days later. During his service, he earned three Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star along with other accolades.
He said when he returned home, it was very different.
“The police were hostile towards us,” Hughley said. “Some of the people who were protesting us actually spit on us when we came back and they threw eggs on us.”
The veterans who were honored received a certificate signed by President Obama along with a pin. They said the morning was very mind blowing and they were very touched by the ceremony.
“It gives my grandkids, my kids a better look at me,” Hughley said. “Hey, my granddaddy served in the Army. He served in Vietnam. When they open their book and start to talk about Vietnam, they can raise their hands and be proud to say that my grandfather was there.”