Members of the Vietnam Veterans Organization of Carbon County gathered Tuesday night at the Lehighton American Legion Post 314 to observe the 49th anniversary of the start of the Vietnam War.
The program, attended by few, was symbolic of the way returning veterans of this unpopular war were treated. Many were shunned as they returned home in their uniforms.
Harry J. Wynn III, past commander, welcomed the few who attended the program and thanked the members of the organization for assisting him and their dedication and service to the legion.
Wynn said members can be counted on to assist at parades and programs for the legion throughout the year.
The organization is five years old and each year it has held a similar program. The programs are rotated to different communities throughout the county. The first was held in Nesquehoning, followed by Lansford, Palmerton and Jim Thorpe.
Maj. Gen. M. Jay Barry, commander of the VVOCC, said that he was proud of his service during the Vietnam War, despite the public opinion.
"While the group is small today, it represents the way veterans were treated when they returned," said Barry. "When we are out in the world we can hold our heads up high because we served. We still remember and we are all proud to have served. I will always remember my years of service in Vietnam with pride."
Barry said that he is still hoping the government does not forget the MIA (missing in action) and POWs (prisoner of war) soldiers because the families need to know where their loved ones are.
He ended his remarks by commending the service members who are serving today.
"We salute you as you have saluted us," he said.
As part of the program, soldiers from Carbon County who lost their lives during the Vietnam War were remembered.
Ronald Neff, adjutant, read off their names. From Lansford, Anthony R. Giannangeli, William C. Whitehead Jr., and Michael P. Pavlocak Jr.; Lehighton, Ronald S.H. Christman, Leon Eckhart and Clyde R. Houser Jr.; Palmerton, Neal G. Bollinger and Clifford Sell; Parryville, Charles R. Jones; Summit Hill, George M. Bevich Jr.; and Weatherly, Edward N. Beers, Paul Hunter and Samuel O'Donnell.
Following the reading of the names, the firing squad saluted the dead, with Curtis F. Snyder Jr., Sgt. at Arms, leading the charge.
The invocation and benediction was offered by Daniel L. Bauer, chaplain.