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Smithfield hosts Vietnam veterans

More than 200 people attended a Vietnam veterans appreciation dinner on March 31 at the Smithfield Center.

More than 100 veterans were recognized for their military during that conflict. Attendees heard an inspirational talk by Silver Star winner, retired Col. Tony Nadal from Williamsburg, following a buffet lunch catered by Taste of Smithfield and served by the Legion Auxiliary. Smithfield Foods provided the meal.

Following Nadal’s talk, individual veterans had a chance to share their experiences. Stories ranged from operating in the jungles of Vietnam to providing naval and air support to U.S. and Vietnamese forces fighting on the ground. Sharing these personal reflections helped those in attendance realize that they, too, had similar experiences to relate to others.

American Legion Post 49 and VFW Post 8545 Commanders welcomed the crowd, along with Smithfield Mayor Carter Williams. More than 40 door prizes were given away to veterans who attended, all donated by local merchants. Delegate Emily Brewer and William McCarty, chairman of the Isle of Wight Board of Supervisors, were on hand to personally thank those who attended.

The local music group “22” entertained during the dinner while a presentation recognizing the 343 servicemen and women from Hampton Roads who were killed in Vietnam was shown. The loudest and longest applause came when Legion Post Commander Bob Hannon asked all veterans to stand and be recognized.

This event was part of the U.S. Vietnam War Commemoration Program established in the Defense Department to encourage local communities and groups to show their appreciation to all who served in the military during the time of that conflict. March 29 is annual Vietnam Veterans Recognition Day; this Smithfield-led event for all Hampton Roads Vietnam-era veterans was organized to coincide with that day.