Recognition of Vietnam vets overdue

Published 10:01 pm Friday, March 8, 2019

By Thomas W. Mastaglio

Many American servicemen and women sacrificed significantly during the Vietnam War, some by serving in theater in combat. Others served their country in the military during that time in the United States and abroad, and more than 300 from Hampton Roads made the ultimate sacrifice.

It is way past time to acknowledge those Vietnam-era veterans for their service. To that end, President Barack Obama in 2012 proclaimed a 13-year program to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, honoring and giving thanks to those veterans who served during that era. In 2017, President Donald Trump signed a proclamation designating March 29 as National Vietnam War Veterans Day and called upon all Americans to offer Vietnam veterans and their families a thank you on behalf of the nation continuing until 2025.

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Anyone who served from 1955 to 1975 in any branch of the military, regardless of where they were stationed, are considered Vietnam-era veterans. A National Commemorative Partners Program allows local civic organizations to sign on and take part in that recognition (

Hampton Roads, as strong military community, knows better than many other locales the value of service and the sacrifices for the individual and their family required when serving our country. It is only right that regionally we acknowledge National Vietnam Veterans Day and collectively thank these sometimes-forgotten heroes.

Please go out of your way to “welcome home” that Vietnam veteran you encounter in the grocery store, doughnut shop, local restaurants, your churches and elsewhere. You will often know them by the pride they express for their service; you will see them wearing hats, jackets, sweatshirts and vests showing that they served and with whom.

Smithfield is leading the region in ensuring National Vietnam War Veterans Day is observed and we welcome all from Hampton Roads to come out that weekend for either or both of these events:

4The Isle of Wight County Museum is offering a program, “Reflecting on Vietnam,” at 11 a.m. March 30. Smithfield resident, retired U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Herb De Groft, will be presenting. He served from 1966 to 1967 in Quang Ngai Province on Advisory Team 2 supporting the 2nd ARVN Division with a Marine Air & Naval Gunfire Liaison Company Team. De Groft will share his war experiences, detail the war’s legacy and discuss some of the misconceptions concerning service in Vietnam. Veterans are encouraged to attend and share their own Vietnam memories. The museum will offer official lapel pins to Vietnam veterans at this event.

On March 31, American Legion Post 49 and the Town of Smithfield welcome all Hampton Roads Vietnam-era veterans to a dinner and recognition program. The event will begin at 2 p.m. at the Smithfield Center. The guest speaker will be retired U.S. Army Col. Tony Nadal, who will talk about the pride of Vietnam service and challenges of service to our country. Attendees will also be asked to share their own reflections. Veterans and their guests are invited to attend this no-cost event. Families who lost a loved one in Vietnam are also welcome to attend so your contribution can be acknowledged. Reservations are requested from all who want to attend; call 818-0487.

Both the Isle of Wight Museum and American Legion Post 49 are National Commemorative Partners.


Dr. Thomas W. Mastaglio is a U.S. Army veteran and chairman of MYMIC LLC. Contact him at