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Vietnam Veterans Honored

Ron Wroblewski, President of Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 949, was one of the honorary speakers at the Vietnam Veterans’ Day event.

Those who served in Vietnam were honored last Saturday, March 30, during a solemn ceremony which took place at Nitro’s Living Memorial Park. The ceremony commemorated Vietnam Veterans Day and the brave men and women who served in the war. This is the first time that this event, which is hosted by the West Virginia Chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America, has been held in Nitro.

The ceremony was emceed by Major James McCormick, Retired US Army, and featured a presentation by Rodney Farley, 1st Vice President, WVSC, and speeches by Daryle W. Bayless, WV Veteran’s Assistance, and Dave Simmons, President WVSC, VVA. Honorary speakers included Terry Cunningham, President of Gold Star Mothers; Sheryl Barker Jackson, Retired Service Officer; Ron Wroblewski, President VVA Ch. 949; and Cecil Roberts, President of UMWA.

Ron Wroblewski, President of Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 949, discussed the role of the Marine Corps in the conflict. Wroblewski, who served as a field radio operator from 1965 to 1966, saw active combat in the war. He spoke of the discomforts that the soldiers faced in their daily lives, such as leeches and rations which dated back to World War II, as well as the horrors of war. “Many times over the years I have been asked what it was like in Vietnam,” said Wroblewski. “I can tell you that I can never forget the sound of an AK-47. As a young Marine in Vietnam, the first time I heard that sound, the young Marine died and my mother cried. Boys became men or died. Fear turned to courage. You were there to fight for your country, but you would die fighting for your fellow Marine.”

Cecil Roberts, President of the United Mine Workers of America, was the final speaker of the ceremony. Beginning his speech with an emotional account of his return home after his stint in Vietnam, he ended by requesting the audience to remember the veterans that are no longer among the living and called for a moment of silence.

The ceremony ended with the playing of “Taps.”

Vietnam Veteran’s Day falls on March 29, as it was upon this date in 1973 that the last United States combat troops departed from Vietnam. In 2012, President Barack Obama proclaimed March 29 as Vietnam Veterans Day, calling upon all Americans “to observe this day with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities that commemorate the 50 year anniversary of the Vietnam War.” Later, in 2017, President Donald Trump signed the Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act, officially recognizing March 29 as Vietnam Veterans Day.

The West Virginia Chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America have held the Vietnam Veterans Day ceremony in Charleston for twelve years, but plans call for the event to be held again in Nitro next year. The organization also hosts the Mobile Vietnam Memorial Wall, which has traveled around the state in the past but is now housed at the Nitro War Museum.

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