Veterans recognized on first official National Vietnam War Veterans Day
KINGSTON — The morning after President Trump signed a law recognizing March 29 as “National Vietnam War Veterans Day,” dozens of local Vietnam veterans were honored Wednesday at a Veterans of Foreign Wars hall.
“You are the first official honorees,” declared Pennsylvania Army National Guard Col. Bob DeSousa, who is state director of Sen. Pat Toomey's regional offices.
Toomey was a chief sponsor of the bill that gives Vietnam veterans their own day of honor. His office organized the ceremony in Kingston in conjunction with state Rep. Aaron Kaufer — not knowing it would he held the morning after Trump signed the bill.
“It's very fitting,” Kaufer said. “Doing this at 9 a.m. this is probably the first ceremony in the country. I am so happy we were able to do this here in my hometown, in our area and be the first to say thank you for your service.”
The dozens of veterans in attendance received pins recognizing their service in Vietnam.
DeSousa said the veterans were wrongly treated horribly when they returned home from the controversial war.
“It was not right,” DeSousa said. “Never again will our veterans be treated poorly by our nation.”
Army veteran Frank Fosko, 73, of West Wyoming, said he remembers it well.
“When we came home, we were told to take off our uniforms because we were being called ‘baby killers,'” Fosko said.
Marine veteran Bernard Mihneski, 72, of Glen Lyon, said the public's reaction was “pretty bad,” which only added to the trauma experienced during war.
“We never did get recognition,” Mihneski said.
Army veteran Eugene Turner, 68, of Huntington Township, said he always makes it a point to approach all veterans to thank them for their service.
“It's nice that finally we're getting recognition,” Turner said. “We weren't met at the airports and thanked for our service. We didn't realize all the hostility that was going on until we got home. When you're fighting over there you aren't thinking about what's going on back here.”