Fort Hood: Honoring Vietnam veterans at an unlikely place

Photo by Chelsea Edwards

FORT HOOD, Texas (KWTX) Friday is National Vietnam War Veterans Day, and in a continuing commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the war, Fort Hood took time to honor those who served.

"This is the first time I've seen something like this," David Yu said.

He is among the hundreds of shoppers visiting the Fort Hood Exchange today and also witnessing an honor of sacrifice.

This is the second year of an event that's being held at bases around the world.

Dozens of veterans are in attendance who served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces at any time from Nov. 1, 1955 to May 15, 1975, regardless of location.

They line up to receive a lapel pin, a presidential letter and a thank you.

“I think it's great, we deserve it,” says Tlen Bishop, who served in the Army for 28 years.

Over the span of nearly two decades, the attendees recall a difficult time in a foreign land and friends who never made it back home.

"They only had thirty days left in country so they said let us take this flight, make this our last flight,” says Terry Higgins, recalling four years he spent as a helicopter pilot overseas.

“It was their last flight, but they didn't make it out."

The Exchange ceremony is very different from the homecoming many received when they returned from war.

“One hundred percent support when we went, but not so much when we came back,” adds Higgins.

Bishop’s eyes well up as he recalls his experience. “[We] got spit on, called baby killers,” he says.

“It was sad because people scorned you,” Kenny Deonarinesingh said. “They'd keep away from you, especially if you were in uniform.”

“Very seldom somebody would come up and thank me for my service,” says Paul Goode who served in the Army for 24 years.

Barbara Goode says her experience as a wife of a soldier was also disheartening. “Even I was criticized that my husband was in Vietnam,” she says.

But they're happy to be honored this day.

Now being celebrated for their service, even in the most unexpected places.

“I'd do it all over again if I had to,” adds Bishop while Goode who sits next to him agrees.