Operation Grateful Nation

TUPELO, Miss. (WCBI) – Vietnam Veterans from around the state gathered in Tupelo, this weekend, to take part in a very special program.

The Patriot Guard Riders arrived via their favorite mode of transportation.

While other Vietnam Veterans, preferred coming in a nice motor coach.

About one-hundred Vietnam Veterans came to see Tupelo’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial, with a wall that is sixty percent the size of the original memorial in Washington, D.C.

Operation Grateful Nation was a 50th Anniversary Commemorative Event of the Vietnam War.

“This is exactly why the wall was built to get people to come together, right here in Tupelo, to pay their respect for the Veterans that made the ultimate sacrifice,” says Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton.

There were a number of Vietnam Veterans, who now reside in Tupelo, including Rex Moody, who spent thirty years in the Marine Corps, including two tours in Vietnam.

“We’re very proud to have this wall. Most of my chapter of the Marine Corps League, we worked hard for this. We’ve raised many thousands of dollars for just about everything in the park here.”

Air Force Veteran and Tupelo resident Don McKibben, was a Russian linguist during the Vietnam War.

“I’ve been many times. The younger brother, Larry, is on this wall. He was killed on May 2nd, 1968. He was an Army helicopter pilot.”

Army Veteran Greg Underwood of Aberdeen, is a member of the Patriot Guard Riders.

“It’s heartwarming to see. There were a number of us that got together and met this group when they got to West Point, and to see all those guys eyes light up when they got off that bus, it’s just something.”

Another member of the Patriot Guard Riders was Army Veteran Lewis Johnson, of Columbus, who visited the wall for the first time.

“It gets emotional every once in a while, because most Vietnam Veterans struggle with PTSD.”

Unlike the Veterans returning home from Afghanistan and Iraq these days, Vietnam Veterans returned home to ridicule and scorn from the American public.

So fifty years later, these folks are finally getting their due respect.

“In some means they are because when we came from Vietnam, we didn’t get it. We were treated like animals.”

“Yeah, I’d say in the past three or four years, I’ve had more people come up and shake my hand and welcome me home than the prior 40-some years.”

“We have people coming up to thank you for your service and it make us feel good.”

“They won every battle that was fought over there. We lost the war, unfortunately, because of a lot of politicians trying to run the war.”

Chad Groening, WCBI, News Tupelo.

Categories: Featured, Local News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *