Coast Guard units encouraged to participate in 50th anniversary commemoration of the Vietnam War

A Coast Guard recruit places the national ensign at a veteran’s grave. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

A Coast Guard recruit places the national ensign at a veteran’s grave at Arlington National Cemetery. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

Written by Lt. Cmdr. Pride Sanders.

In the decade between 1965 and 1975, Coast Guard 82-foot patrol boats, buoy tenders, high endurance cutters, pilots and land-based personnel supported efforts in the Vietnam War. The capabilities and resources the Coast Guard took to that theater stemmed from the service’s rich history and continue to this day. These missions included maintaining aids to navigation, performing replenishment at sea, maintaining port security, boarding and inspecting vessels, aerospace rescue and recovery and much more. Throughout the Coast Guard’s service in Vietnam, our Coast Guardsmen consistently adhered to the service’s core values of honor, respect and devotion to duty.

During his Memorial Day remarks at the Vietnam War Memorial in 2012, President Obama said, “…One of the most painful chapters in our history was Vietnam — most particularly, how we treated our troops who served there. You were often blamed for a war you didn’t start, when you should have been commended for serving your country with valor. You were sometimes blamed for misdeeds of a few, when the honorable service of the many should have been praised. You came home and sometimes were denigrated, when you should have been celebrated. It was a national shame, a disgrace that should have never happened. And that’s why here today we resolve that it will not happen again.”

His speech kicked off the 50th anniversary commemoration of the Vietnam War. The Department of Defense-led committee’s mission is to thank and honor the nation’s Vietnam War veterans, the fallen and wounded, their families, prisoners of war, those listed as missing and unaccounted for, civilian agencies, home front supporters, and our Vietnam War allies.

Coast Guard Cutter Minnetonka's gun crew engaging the enemy during one of the 51 gunfire support missions of their Vietnam deployment. Click the image to learn more about Minnetonka's deployment during the Vietnam War. Photo courtesy of Keith Barker.

Coast Guard Cutter Minnetonka’s gun crew engaging the enemy during one of the 51 gunfire support missions of their Vietnam deployment. Click the image to learn more about Minnetonka’s deployment during the Vietnam War. Photo courtesy of Keith Barker.

The commemoration’s key initiative is the establishment of the Commemorative Partner program, which enlists the support of federal agencies, state, local civilian and military organizations, international governments, veterans’ organizations, civic groups, industries, educational institutions, museums, businesses and other organizations to remember the Vietnam War and thank its veterans. Commemorative Partners commit to plan and conduct at least two events and activities annually between 2015 and 2017 to thank and honor our Vietnam War veterans and their families in their hometowns.

Coast Guard units at all levels have the opportunity to become Commemorative Partners. This experience can provide a meaningful link between present-day service members and those who served in the past – especially for units that deployed or otherwise supported the Vietnam War.

To find more out about the Vietnam War Commemoration Office and the Commemorative Partner program, please visit the official website. The Coast Guard Liaison Officer to the Vietnam War Commemoration Office, Lt. Cmdr. Pride Sanders, can be reached at VietnamWarCommemoration@uscg.mil for additional questions or information.

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