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Army Launches 50th Anniversary Commemoration of Vietnam War

By J.D. Leipold – Army News Service

The afternoon in the Pentagon auditorium on Aug. 28 was a time for reflection on a war that spanned 10 years and cost the country the lives of more than 58,000 young men and women. It was also an occasion to honor and thank nine Vietnam War veterans who’d served a total of 14 tours in-country and 225 years in uniform.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. John F. Campbell praises nine Vietnam War veterans for their service, Aug. 28, 2013, at the Pentagon’s kick-off of the 50th Anniversary Commemoration of the Vietnam War, which spanned from 1965 to 1975. U.S. Army photo by J.D. Leipold
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Kicking off the Pentagon’s first event commemorating the 50th anniversary of the conflict, Army Lt. Gen. Raymond V. Mason, deputy chief of staff for logistics, opened the ceremony recalling personal memories as well as his broader experiences as a young American citizen.

“I was a young Army brat and it was difficult for me to watch my dad come back after his third tour in Vietnam and not get treated appropriately, at least in my mind,” Mason said. “I was just a pretty young guy at that time, but I could feel that it wasn’t right. It struck me, and I knew if I ever had the opportunity to make that right I would do the best I could.

“Today, we are recognizing nine of our patriots and their families who stood up to the test of their generation and their decade,” he continued. “I think it’s well overdue. Nothing is more important than pausing and reflecting on the sacrifices of what these great men and women did and those who gave their last full measure.”

On March 8, 1965, America’s ground war in Vietnam began when 3,500 Marines were deployed with the American public’s support. By Christmas, 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 58,000 Americans lost their lives.

While the official 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War will be in 2015, the president and Congress requested the secretary of Defense to begin planning the Vietnam War commemoration in 2007.

The goal is to get more than 10,000 corporations, civic groups as well as government and community organizations to join as partners and help sponsor hometown events to honor Vietnam veterans, their families and those who were prisoners of war and missing in action.

To date, 4,921 commemorative partners have signed on, including Army logistics, or G-4, which became the first.

Following Mason’s remarks, Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. John F. Campbell thanked him and his team for leading the way to celebrate the contributions of Vietnam veterans.

The son of an Air Force senior master sergeant, Campbell told of his years growing up on military bases around the world before attending West Point, and then recalled his first interaction with Vietnam veterans while a lieutenant in Germany.

“Both the battalion commanders were Vietnam veterans … all the platoon sergeants, all the first sergeants, all the company commanders were Vietnam veterans,” Campbell said. The vets, he said, instilled in him their hard-fought lessons-learned from Vietnam and wanted to make sure the young lieutenants and soldiers wouldn’t make the same mistakes they had.

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Claude “Mick” Kicklighter serves as director of the U.S. Vietnam War Commemoration. During the Pentagon event he previewed the timeline of plans for honoring Vietnam veterans across the country over the next few years.

“Veterans of Valor,” a 30-minute documentary with the nine honorees recalling humorous and somber anecdotes of their war experiences and interspersed with still photographs of themselves in Vietnam was also premiered.

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About Edited by Susan Bainbridge

At age 6, Susan was destined to be a journalist and photographer.  In 1980, Susan founded Bainbridge News and The Bainbridge Chronicle Newspaper. Bainbridge News specializes in Military and National Politics, including Military Funerals and Burials and Political Funerals and Burials.  Susan has covered the White House, the Pentagon and Capitol Hill. She has covered every president from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama. Recognized for her versatility, Susan has also covered finance, crime, civil rights events, marches, sports, musical events and more. In 1990, she established Bainbridge Photography, an On-Location photography company. In addition to military and political events, including Military and Political funerals and burials, Bainbridge Photography expanded into covering ALL funerals and burials, receptions, weddings, real estate, inventory, insurance, portrait, head shot, pets, fire and Hazmat.  Miss Bainbridge believes in going the extra mile. "My Clients always come first." In 1980, Susan began her career in Washington, D.C., working for WMZQ Radio as a reporter and guest hostess from 1980 to 1985. Intrigued by radio, Susan wanted to write, freelancing for radio, television and print newspapers, including AP, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, The Northern Virginia Sun, The Press-Republican and The Bainbridge Chronicle (established by Susan Bainbridge). In 1986, Susan worked at WDCA-TV Channel 20 as a guest hostess for "Eye On Washington." From 1990 to 1994, Susan reported and anchored for "The Arlington Weekly News." Additionally, she produced a segment for the G. Gordon Liddy Radio Show. A prolific writer, while in high school in 1977, Bainbridge wrote an episode for NBC's "Little House on The Prairie" entitled "Laura's Best Friend." Though the show's producers did not use the script then, NBC producers encouraged Susan to pursue a writing and journalism career. Susan is a member of the National Press Club, the National Press Photographer's Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. Susan Bainbridge's recognitions include from former Presidents Ronald Reagan, George Herbert Walker Bush and Bill Clinton, former First Lady Nancy Reagan, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the late actor Lorne Greene, among many others. BAINBRIDGE NEWS was founded in 1980 by Susan Bainbridge (a sixth generation writer), a third generation journalist, a first generation photographer and a fourth generation entrepreneur. She is the first generation to establish a news business. Bainbridge News is dedicated in honor of Miss Bainbridge's late grandfather and idol, Mark S. Watson (The Baltimore Sun editor and war correspondent from 1920 to his death in 1966).

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