TOGUS – More than 150 people went to the State Veterans Hospital on Thursday to thank and honor the Americans who served in Vietnam, part of a continuing reminder of half a century after the war.
Dozens of veterans attended the event on the Togus campus of the VA Maine Healthcare System, many wearing pins, jackets, hats, and other robes that showed their years of service and decorations.
Among the speakers were Gov. Paul LePage and US Sen. Angus King, as well as officials from the Department of Veterans Affairs and representatives of the other three members of Congress.
The ceremony came just one day after President Trump released his secretary for veterans affairs, David Shulkin.
King said that one way to thank veterans for their service is to hold the Federal Ministry accountable.
"We have to thank them by making sure the VA works," King said. "By barking at Ryan Lilly, making sure that the benefits are paid on time, that hospital bills get paid, the veterans' credit is not compromised."
All spoke of the disrespect with which some US soldiers were facing unpopular war and the need to recognize their efforts now.
The news encouraged Joseph Obrin Sr., a 69-year-old topsham man, to complete two tours of Vietnam with the 1
Obrin was shot four times in a clash with Viet Cong fighters. He also saw many comrades die in a clash with North Vietnamese soldiers who had overrun a mountain in the south of the country.
Obrin was honored with a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star. But the first time he got home from the war, protesters spat at him as he walked through an airport in California.
"It was hard to swallow," recalls Obrin. He does not usually attend ceremonies like Thursday, he continued, because they are "emotional, but I'm glad I did it, it's a bit of a cure."
Obrin also went to the ceremony on Thursday to honor his brother Mickey. Both fought in Vietnam and suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder when they got home. About a dozen years ago, Mickey committed suicide, Obrin said. His voice broke at the memory.
"It's hard," he said. "He's buried right there in the Toguz Cemetery."
More than 58,000 US soldiers died in Vietnam. Another 1,626 were missing in action.
U.S. The engagement began in the 1950s and escalated into the 1960s, before the troops on March 29, 1973 – 45 years ago on Thursday – were finally deducted.
Thursday's ceremony was one of many that took place around Maine and the countryside. It was part of a rolling collection of memoirs created under former President Barack Obama.
This year's event was designed to highlight the events of 1968, according to Ryan Lilly, director of the VA Maine Healthcare System. This year, US operations peaked and communist forces launched the Tet offensive to topple the South Vietnamese government.
King, a member of the US Senate Armed Forces Committee, also said he is eager to ask tough questions about current conflicts in places like Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and North Korea.
"The way I want to say thank you is damn sure that we do not commit young people to a war that is not in the vital interest of our country, that we take it seriously and its implications for that Understanding life, "said the senator. "Most of you are heroes for what you have done and achieved, but also because you have answered the call of your country, I am very welcome and thank you."
Charles Eichacker is reachable at 621 -5642 or under:
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