SUFFOLK, Va. -- Sailors and civilians at Naval Information Forces (NAVIFOR) held a Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Day event, March 29.
Vice Adm. Brian B. Brown, commander, NAVIFOR, opened the event by providing remarks on the Vietnam War, to include the Navy’s involvement in combat and supporting operations and fostered an open discussion with the audience, which included civilian and military members, regarding the service of family or friends during the Vietnam War.
“We join in a variety of Navy-wide functions today, reflecting on our nation’s call to service in the Vietnam War,” said Brown. “I have three distinct memories from that time. I remember my uncle returning from service in the Army wounded in the war zone and the after effects, now recognized as PTSD.”
“I remember living in Guam, at the end of the war, with my father who was serving in the Navy on active duty in the medical field, and seeing all the refugees coming in from Vietnam. My father was part of the medical response team that treated them upon arrival. I also vividly remember each evening, the local news listing all the names of those prisoners of war and missing in action across my television screen,” continued Brown.
After Brown shared some of his earliest memories of his father during the Vietnam War, he opened the floor to anyone willing to share stories of themselves or loved ones who served in the Vietnam War.
Retired Master Chief Jim Becker, a data analyst at NAVIFOR, spoke about his time as a junior Sailor working for deck department onboard USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) during the Vietnam War.
“I just joined in 1971 and deployed aboard the USS Kitty Hawk out of San Diego in 1972,” said Becker. “Normally, there were port calls in the Pacific like Hawaii or Guam but instead, we headed directly for the Philippines due to the urgency to get on station. After about 45 days, we headed back to a port call, Subic Bay, Philippines, for five days when at 0500 on the third day, the 1-MC announcement was heard announcing the return of the commanding officer. We ended up departing while leaving 1,200 service members ashore. It took nearly a week to get everyone back on board. There was never a schedule, just launch and recover for days.”
Becker shared more stories with a couple of eager service members after the event, “I remember one of those intense situations standing watch on the helm and we had one of our jets shot down. The officer of the deck wanted me to change course and the commanding officer told me hold my course, while he, the OOD and conning officer had a discussion about it. We changed course again,” said Decker. “Those times were tough because you never had a schedule to go by, missions changed drastically day in and day out while supporting the war effort.”
Today, when most service members return from a deployment, they are cheerfully greeted, homecomings are planned and most are thanked for their service. Vietnam veterans were not so lucky when they came home from the war. Upon their return, many were greeted by the vitriolic chants of anti-war protesters and some were even spat upon. A lot of Vietnam veterans felt confused, betrayed and heartbroken.
National Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Day is observed annually, recognizing the services of Vietnam veterans and informs the American public about their service, sacrifice and dedication to our country.
President Donald J. Trump signed the Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act of 2017, March 28, 2017, officially declaring March 29 as National Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Day.
“In conclusion of this year’s Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Day, I want to say, welcome home,” concluded Brown.
For more information about NAVIFOR, visit the command's website at http://www.public.navy.mil/fltfor/navifor/Pages/Default2.aspx, Navy News webpage at http://www.navy.mil/local/navifor or Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/USNavyInformationDominanceForces.