Vietnam War veterans of all services will receive something most did not get some 50 years ago when they returned from combat — a welcome home ceremony — Friday, June 19, at Fort Stewart’s Cottrell Field.
All Vietnam War veterans are invited to participate in the ceremony. Participants are asked to meet ceremony personnel at the Sfc. Paul R. Smith Army Education Center outside of Fort Stewart’s main gate by 4:30 p.m. The education center is off Gen. Stewart Way in Hinesville and near Button Gwinnett Elementary School. Veterans will board buses at the education center and then be driven to the parade field past the reviewing stands there, filled with cheering friends and family.
Once at the parade field, the veterans will march across it to waiting friends and family and uncase a 50th-anniversary commemorative flag. The ceremony will look very much like the welcome-home ceremonies soldiers from Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield have received when returning home from combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Family members who wish to participate also should meet ceremony personnel by 4:30 p.m. at the education-center parking lot to be issued an access pass to drive onto Fort Stewart. Once on post, families should drive to Cottrell Field. Parking will be at Newman Gymnasium across from the parade field; Newman Gymnasium parking is at the intersection of West Fifth Street and Bundy Avenue.
The welcome-home ceremony is part of the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration in honor of the 50th anniversary of the war. The objectives of the commemoration are:
- To thank and honor veterans of the Vietnam War, including personnel who were held as prisoners of war or listed as missing in action for their service and sacrifice on behalf of the United States and to thank and honor the families of these veterans.
- To highlight the service of the armed forces during the Vietnam War and the contributions of federal agencies and governmental and nongovernmental organizations that served with, or in support of, the armed forces.
- To pay tribute to the contributions made on the home front by the people of the United States during the Vietnam War.
- To recognize the contributions and sacrifices made by the allies of the United States during the Vietnam War.