Operation Homecoming USA is a first-ever national event having the specific purpose of providing Vietnam veterans the national homecoming they never received. "Welcome Home: America's Tribute to Vietnam Veterans" took place June 13-19 to mark the 30th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War.
Motorcycle riders from across the area met in Springfield with the truck carrying the multi-section Dignity Memorial Vietnam Wall Experience. The military escort was provided by Army National Guard Sergeant First Class Richard Burns and 13 other members of the 203rd Engineer Battalion from Springfield, Missouri. Each of the soldiers served in Iraq, and all jumped at the chance to honor the veterans who went before them. Many of the riders volunteered to help the soldiers assemble the display. Many other veteran riders gave humorous verbal support to fellow Vietnam vets and sincere thanks to the current soldiers.
There were plenty of scheduled events available to the veterans and guests, including a parade, golf and fishing tournaments, military keynote speakers, military equipment displays and the Dignity Memorial Vietnam Wall. The grand finale was held on the 18th, which included an air show with A-10’s, Blackhawk helicopters and other planes. The closing concert performers were the Doobie Brothers, Creedence Clearwater Revisited, the Oak Ridge Boys, the Beach Boys, the Four Tops, Mary Wilson of the Supremes, and Tony Orlando.
For Vietnam veterans, their loved ones, and our nation, this celebration was profoundly important. By honoring those who answered their country’s call during a difficult time in our nation’s history, the legacy of duty, honor and country will be passed on to our sons and daughters who serve now or will be called to serve in the future.
I salute the men and women who served and sacrificed for us during the Vietnam War and pray for those still missing…my gratitude goes out to all family members.
Story and photos by Bart
and Dave Brandt