Recognizing Vietnam vets in Smithfield

Published 9:50 pm Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Vietnam veterans are invited to come together and share their stories over a hot meal in Smithfield this Sunday.

American Legion Post 49 and its auxiliary will hold a “Welcome Home Luncheon” at 2 p.m. at 818 S. Church St. The luncheon is free and open to Vietnam-era veterans in honor of National Vietnam War Veterans Day, observed on March 29.

“When the Vietnam veterans came home, it wasn’t a good reception by any means,” said Post 49 Commander Pat Connolly said in a phone interview. “That’s why this is called a “Welcome Home Luncheon.” We wanted to honor them for their contributions and sacrifices and recognize that they weren’t received very well when they got home.”

After an opening ceremony honoring the flag and recognizing prisoners of war and those missing in action, veterans will enjoy pork loin with buttered potatoes, green beans and rolls. Connolly said there will be opportunities for them to share their stories at the meeting.

One of the speakers will be Wulf Berg, who served in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War. Berg is a Post 49 member and was born in Cologne, Germany.

“(Berg) has a very interesting story,” Connolly said. “He was actually in Germany at age 12 during World War II. “He’s a survivor and an accomplished author.”

Local Legionnaires and members of the public are also encouraged to join and help “welcome home” these veterans.

“It’s just a small token of respect paid to those that have come before us,” Connolly said. “We’re honored to have the opportunity, and we look forward to seeing everyone.”

Those interested in attending should RVSP via email at pastthoughts@hotmail.com.