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Residents come out to welcome home our Vietnam Vets

April 4, 2018
By MELISSA BILL ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

Many people from the community came out to show their support for our country's Vietnam Vets during Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4174 "Welcome Home Vietnam Vets" celebration on Saturday.

The emotion-filled event brought out members of the community and Vietnam Veterans, friends, families and other veteran service organizations.

Post Commander Terry Daugherty led the ceremony, which marks the first one held at Post 4174 dedicated to remembering those who served in Vietnam.

"This is the first year for this event and we are proud to announce that the Department of Defense has named VFW Post 4174 as a commemorative partner. We plan to make this ceremony a yearly event from this point on," said Daugherty.

The ceremony opened with the raising of the American flag and a singing of the National Anthem. Local Boy and Girl Scout troops 720, 11 and Pack 11 were also on hand to carry flags and participate in the day's events.

A presentation of the Last Patrol followed opening ceremonies. The Last Patrol represents a special operations group during the Vietnam War.

Adam Valdez introduced the special ops recreation.

"This is in remembrance of more than 58,200 soldiers who lost their lives and the POWS and MIA's. There are still 2,200 soldiers unaccounted for in Southeast Asia," said Valdez.

According to Valdez, the soldier's canine companions are often forgotten as well.

"Over 4,000 military dogs served in Vietnam. They aided American forces in everything from base security to detecting ambushes to hunting down fleeing enemy units. Its estimated theses dogs saved more than 10,000 lives," explained Valdez.

The unfortunate part is only about 200 of the 4,000 military dogs that served made it back to the U.S.

"During our government's haste to get out of Vietnam, they classified many of them as luggage and left them behind," said Valdez.

Following the reenactment, Post Commander Daugherty and other speakers talked about their experience upon coming back from the war and why this welcome home celebration is long overdue for those who served during the Vietnam War.

"I got off the plane to hear people yelling how many men and women did you kill?" Daugherty said.

Andy Bernett, who served as a medic during the war, spoke about key points during his time there.

"I still remember my first burn victim, something I will never forget," said Bernett.

A small parade lined by motorcycles providing a salute and the presentation of the color guard by local JROTC wrapped up the day's events.

Attendees were invited to enjoy a meal and refreshments following the ceremony.

Visit the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4174 Facebook page for more information on upcoming events 239-369-5100.

The VFW is at 25 Homestead Rd S, Lehigh Acres.



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