Vietnam Veterans and their family and friends gathered Sunday at the Lehighton American Legion Post 314 to welcome home Vietnam veterans and celebrate the 37th anniversary of the end of the war.
Harry Wynn III served as master of ceremonies.
The wind was brisk and made for a grand display of the flag of our country, the five flags signifying the five branches of the military and the POW/MIA flag on the mast and also those held by the color guard as they snapped in the breeze. The air was so brisk and the temperature was so cold that Henry Long said his lip was frozen as he played the salute to all the services.
The program began Frank Strouse calling for a salute to the colors. The invocation was delivered by Richard J. Fink, acting chaplain. The POW/MIA Empty Chair ceremony was presented by Floyd C. Brown, commander of the Veterans of the Vietnam War of Carbon County and Fink.
Brown said that he wanted to honor all Vietnam Veterans living and deceased. Also speaking was Robert Rehnert, commander of the AMVETS Post 106, who thanked the Vietnam Veterans; and Mitchell Nace, commander of the VFW Post 256, thanked the Vietnam veterans for their service to our county.
The main speaker was State Rep. Doyle Heffley.
Heffley thanked everyone for bringing the event together. He noted that on March 29, 1973, the last remaining American troops were withdrawn from Vietnam. He said President Nixon had declared that the day had come that everyone worked for and prayed for.
"Today we gather to mark the 37th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War and to honor all those who served and answered the call of duty - to remember the sacrifices they made on and off the battlefield," said Heffley.
Heffley said that 2 million American service men served during the Vietnam War, with 500,000 seeing actual combat.
There were 47,244 killed in action including 8,000 airmen. There were 10,446 noncombat deaths and 153,329 were seriously wounded including 10,000 amputees. Also he said there were 2,400 American POW/MIAs unaccounted for as of 1973.
"America's involvement in the war lasted for over 15 years and four presidents," he added. "Our soldiers accomplished every mission. They never dropped the flag or turned their back. They never failed our country."
Heffley then thanked the Vietnam veterans for their sacrifice.
"It is our duty to take care of those veterans that have taken care of us by ensuring we provide them with the benefits they deserve," said Heffley.
Wynn ended the program by saying "Welcome home," to all Vietnam veterans.