News: A tattoo commemorating Vietnam Veterans
Story by Staff Sgt. Samantha Simmons
FORT MYER, Va. – The U.S. Army’s elite dedicated a performance of a time-honored tradition to Vietnam veterans and their families on Wednesday, June 5, at Fort Myer in support of the nation’s Commemoration of the Vietnam War’s 50th Anniversary.
Michael Rhodes, Director of Administration and Management for the Office of Secretary of Defense, hosted the Twilight Tattoo for the Vietnam War Commemoration’s national program. The program’s mission is to assist a grateful nation in thanking and honoring Vietnam Veterans and their families.
Rifle and cannon smoke filled the air as soldiers of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) reenacted battle scenes and marched with precision and discipline to the orchestral sounds of The U.S. Army Band, giving approximately 2,700 guests a glimpse of American history.
Lt. Gen. Raymond V. Mason, Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics, G-4, stood alongside Mr. Rhodes and five Vietnam-era distinguished guests to receive the honors. The guests represented five key groups of the Vietnam War era: Marine Corps Col. (Ret.) Harvey C. “Barney” Barnum, a Medal of Honor recipient during Vietnam; Marine Corps Lt. Col. (Ret.) Orson Swindle, former Prisoner of War held in North Vietnam; Army Cpt. (Ret.) Tommy Clack, a decorated combat wounded veteran during the Vietnam War; Yolanda Acevedo, a Gold Star daughter and wife; and Ann Mills-Griffiths whose brother disappeared on a mission in Vietnam and is still missing-in-action.
After formal honors were rendered, all Vietnam veterans were asked to proudly stand and be recognized. School students, local community members and Fort Myer families extended a rousing round of applause for all of the Vietnam veterans.
For many years, Vietnam veterans were not recognized for their service or celebrated for their sacrifice. Creating partnerships and hosting events for Vietnam Veterans to support and commemorate those who served in Vietnam and their family members is a vital mission.
“Growing up, you had a sense that you could not be proud of them when they sacrificed their lives and their families,” said Ms. Acevedo, one of those formally recognized. Acevedo’s father was killed in action in Vietnam (1968) and her husband was killed in Bahrain (2003).
She said she moved to Arlington to be close to the burial sites of both her father and husband to forever honor and embrace them and their sacrifices. She works closely with the Gold Star Families program, so her sons know they are not alone.
“These events help us remember why they served, and it makes me feel very proud of my father and my husband,” said Acevedo.