Vietnam veterans honored here Aug. 25


In suit and tie, center, U.S. Rep. Roger Williams is surrounded by veterans of military service during the Vietnam War era whom he honored Thursday, Aug. 25. Each honoree received a certificate recognizing the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War and a commemorative pin presented on behalf of the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a grateful nation. Follow this link for more photos on Facebook ( )

by Glynis Crawford Smith

The Highlander

More than 70 U.S. military veterans from the Vietnam War era were honored Thursday morning, Aug. 25, at a ceremony sponsored by Congressman Roger Williams at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10376 in Marble Falls.

“Congressman Williams is one of the few to do what was intended when the Congressional Resolution was passed recognizing the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War,” said Burnet County Veterans Services Officer Bill Worley, Lt. USN Retired.

The ceremony was the third Williams has carried out in his 25th Congressional District.

“We hope to do at least one more,” he said, explaining that each veteran who registered for the event was receiving a certificate and a memorial pin.

“We owe you a debt of gratitude,” Williams told the assembly. “It was you who answered the call, even when it was not the popular thing to do. It was you who were sent to a foreign land....You were not given a proper welcome home.

“Since the Vietnam War we have learned,” he said. “You are our heroes; the finest and best we had to offer.”

Williams credited former President George Walker Bush with instigating recognition of veterans and honoring them with pins for their service. House Resolution 695, sponsored by Rep. Barbara Lee and passed in April, recognized the 50th anniversary of the period from 1964 to 1973 that came to be known as the Vietnam War era.

“They extended that for recognition to the period from 1955, when special forces were sent in when the French were there, to 1975,” said Worley. “I'd say 98 percent of the veterans honored today were actually there in Vietnam, not just serving during the period.”

U.S. Army combat veteran Sam Sartain of Buchanan Dam was honored, but said he was attending as much as part of his mission to keep the valor of those who served in the Korean conflict to the fore. He wore the Nobel Peace Prize medal presented to him and others as Ambassadors of Peace for serving with the U.N. peacekeeping mission following the war.

Others among the honorees saw duty that began long before or extended long after the Vietnam War era and not all were men.

Betty “BJ” Garner, 93, made a career as a military nurse.

“I decided they needed me and went down in 1943,” she said. “A teenager didn't have to ask her family's permission then. I stayed because I loved it.”

Patricia “Patty” M. Murray joined the Air Force in 1956 just after she graduated from high school. She lost her husband in Vietnam and remains a peer-to-peer counselor for veterans.

Williams said he was pleased to see how many elected officials, current and former, were among those honored. They included Burnet County Sheriff W.T. Smith and former Burnet County Judge Dave Kithil.

County Judge James Oakley welcomed the veterans and introduced Williams. VFW District 14 Commander Bob Hansen presented certificates and Terry Wilson, the Representative-elect for Texas House District 20 who retired after a 30-year career the U.S. Army at the rank of colonel, afixed lapen pins and saluted the fellow veterans.

Then President Richard Nixon was the first president to call for Americans to recognize March 29 as a national Vietnam Veterans Day holiday. In doing so, he asked the nation to commemorate March 29, 1974, with appropriate observances.

Fifty years after the war began, President Barack Obama wanted to recognize the military service of the more than 3 million Americans who participated in the Vietnam War. He proclaimed March 29, 2012, as Vietnam Veterans Day, and requested that all Americans recognize the day with relevant programs, ceremonies and activities to commemorate the 50-year anniversary of the Vietnam War.

House Resolution 695 followed that call this year and Rep. Roger Williams has been carrying it forward in his local district since.


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