They Fought in an Unpopular War; 50 Years Later, Vietnam Vets Finally Hear “Thank You”

Apr 6, 2018

The last American troops withdrew from South Vietnam in 1975. On March 29, the 50th anniversary of this historic event coincided with the first National Vietnam War Veterans Day. Vietnam War Veterans Day is a new holiday, established when President Trump signed the Vietnam War Recognition Act of 2017. Veterans and supporters across the country gathered to remember their sacrifices and also to finally hear the words "thank you for your service."

The Vietnam War extended from the 1950s to 1975. Almost 900 South Carolinians died in the war. According to the National Archives website, there were 700 battle deaths and nearly 200 non-battle deaths. 

Sights and Sounds from First Vietnam War Veterans Day in Columbia

Left: George Culler joined the military at 17. He remembers growing up very quickly after seeing war up close, while in Vietnam. Right: Terry Greenfield honors his father during Vietnam War Veterans Day. He says he remembers the hatred Vietnam vets faced when returning home.
Credit Thelisha Eaddy/SC Public Radio

Gerald Phelps describes what the 1968 medevac helicopter was able to do and how it was used during the Vietnam era.
Credit Thelisha Eaddy/SC Public Radio

During the ceremony, this army-green colored box sat on the steps of the state house. Below, Veteran Affairs Director Howard Metcalf shares the significance of the box.
Credit Thelisha Eaddy/SC Public Radio