By Steven Manning, News-Sentinel
It’s finally happening! After nearly four decades, Vietnam veterans in Fort Wayne and the tri-state area are getting an official welcome-home celebration.
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The Vietnam Veterans of America Homecoming Celebration 2013 is slated for 1-4 p.m. this Saturday at Parkview Field.
Kevin Howell, who is currently an Allen County councilman, but also an ex-Marine, heads up the committee in charge of the event. He says he came up with the idea to honor Vietnam vets after reading Gen. Colin Powell’s autobiography. In the book, Powell mentioned that he was one of the first 16,000 to be deployed to South Vietnam.
According to an article on the U.S. Department of Defense website, on March 8, 1965, America’s ground war in Vietnam began when 3,500 Marines were deployed with the American public’s support.
The war was fought between North Vietnam, supported by China and other communist allies, and the government of South Vietnam, supported by the United States and other anti-communist countries.
By Christmas 1965, 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. More than 58,256 Americans lost their lives, 303,700 Americans were wounded and there were 5,011 MIA and 765 POWs.
Howell says after all these years he’s quite sure there has never been a welcome-home celebration exclusively for Vietnam vets and Vietnam-era vets in northeast Indiana, Allen County or Fort Wayne. He says that’s unusual because Indiana is a very conservative state and a very patriotic state.
The three-hour celebration is open to all Vietnam vets and Vietnam-era vets and their families and friends from northeast Indiana, southern Michigan and northwest Ohio.
It will include “Welcome Home” proclamations from various community leaders and government officials such as Indiana Rep. Marlin Stutzman and Mayor Tom Henry, musical selections, a flyover by the 122nd Fighter Wing, and a keynote address by Phillip Wise.
Wise, a Vietnam vet who was in Operation Babylift, is also author of the book “Fragile Delivery.”
Read the full article by Steven Manning from News-Sentinel.