National Vietnam Veterans Day Celebration

“Welcome Home” Vietnam Veterans Celebration at Hamilton County Courthouse. (Photo: Faye Stoudemire)

On Monday, March 29 at 12 noon, Veterans and their families, along with elected and appointed governmental officials, local citizens, and members of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution and other organizations dedicated to historical preservation and patriotism, gathered for a public ceremony on the South lawn of the Hamilton County Courthouse to ‘Welcome Home’ Vietnam Veterans, 46 years after the withdrawal of U.S. forces from the Republic of South Vietnam.


March 29 was National Vietnam Veterans Appreciation Day, designated as a day to commemorate the service and sacrifice of the more than 2.7 million members of the U. S. Armed Forces who served in the Republic of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War and the additional 6.9 million who served in support of the military actions. In Hamilton County, Tennessee and across the nation, governmental officials, veterans and community leaders paused to remember and acknowledge the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, recognizing the more than 10,000 Vietnam veterans who reside in the Tennessee Valley.

Over 58,000 members of the U. S. Armed Forces would die in the Republic of South Vietnam, including eight women.

Sitting in an authentic Vietnam era jeep, Vietnam Marine Veteran Joe Gibson in the passenger seat, and Vietnam Army Veteran John Edwards at the wheel recall their combat experiences. A former squad leader, Edwards said he was wounded after nine months in combat. After recovering from his wounds, he was assigned to oversee R&Rs and Leaves for soldiers in his Battalion.
Additionally, he had to serve as personal driver for the Company Commander, but he had never driven a straight shift, which all military jeeps were. “I’ll never forget going to the Company Commander’s office thinking I might be assigned back to combat duty. After telling him I could not drive a straight shift, I was relieved when he said, “Can you learn?” I saluted him and yelled, Yes Sir! He put up with me jerking him back and forth for the next month until I learned.” (Photo: Faye Stoudemire)