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Connecticut veterans look back on the end of war in Vietnam

Veterans greet one another at the special event.
Brian Scott-Smith
/
WSHU
Veterans greet one another at the special event.

Fifty years ago, the U.S. ended its military involvement in the Vietnam War.

David Lewis, the general manager of the U.S. Navy Exchange at the submarine base in New London, led a special commemoration ceremony for Vietnam War veterans on Wednesday to mark the occasion.

Special stickers and pins for the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.
Brian Scott-Smith
/
WSHU
Special stickers and pins for the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.

“We gather especially to remember and honor those who served during the Vietnam War. The Department of Veteran Affairs estimates there are 6.4 million living Vietnam veterans and 9 million families of those who have served during this timeframe,” Lewis said. “Eastern Connecticut is home to more than 20,000 veterans who served during the Vietnam era.”

At the ceremony, four local Vietnam veterans shared their stories of their time in the country and received special gifts in recognition of their service.

They said they were treated poorly after they returned to the U.S. due to the divisive nature the war had on the country.

A special gift to all Vietnam War veterans.
Brian Scott-Smith
/
WSHU
A special gift to all Vietnam War veterans.

Vietnam veteran Dan Eddinger recalled coming home to a deafening silence in the U.S.

“Now the Vietnam veterans have lived a long time with a little black cloud over their head,” Eddinger said. “They were spit on when they came back. There were no welcome home committees.”

“But we have stood up and said this will never happen again. It’s the Vietnam veterans who have made these homecomings what they are today. We don't allow the American public to put down what we went out to serve for,” he said.

On Thursday, March 30, at 11:00 a.m., the state Department of Veterans Affairs will host a Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day ceremony on its campus at 287 West Street in Rocky Hill.

“To unwarranted and unfair effects, our nation’s service members returned from Vietnam to a deafening silence,” Governor Ned Lamont said in a statement. “We can never undo the damages that occurred fifty years ago, however we can commit to righting the wrongs.

An award-winning freelance reporter/host for WSHU, Brian lives in southeastern Connecticut and covers stories for WSHU across the Eastern side of the state.