Fort Hamilton salutes Vietnam War veterans at community club ceremony
The brave soldiers who fought for our country in Vietnam are finally receiving the heartfelt thanks they deserve for their sacrifice.
Fort Hamilton Army Base in Bay Ridge honored those who served in the Vietnam War on Thursday, March 29 with a commemorative ceremony at their community club
Attending the event were soldiers from all branches of the service who served in Vietnam along with civic leaders and the families of those who either lost their lives in battle or had passed away.
“We are honored here at Fort Hamilton to host this event to recognize our Vietnam War veterans,” Peter Sicoli, commanding officer at Fort Hamilton told the Brooklyn Eagle.
“We can never thank them enough for the service and sacrifice that they’ve made. This recognition ceremony is just a small token of our appreciation for what they have done and given to our country.”
Mary Maysonet, United States Army Garrison (USAG) served as mistress of ceremonies. She said that the presidential proclamation signed by President Barack Obama on May 25, 2012, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, would extend from Memorial Day 2012 to Veterans Day 2025. It pays tribute to the more than 3 million servicemen and women who left their families to serve a world away in Vietnam.
She explained that the proclamation was to thank and honor veterans of the Vietnam War, including those who were held as prisoners or listed as missing in action.
“We recognize that because of Vietnam veterans military members today are welcomed home as heroes,” Maysonet said. “We stand with you making sure that no military member is ever subjected to the homecoming like the one you experienced. We vow to never again confuse personal disapproval of war with prejudice against those who honorably wear the uniform. We thank you for your service and your support.”
Today, the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C. honors all the men and women who gave their lives. 58,286 names are etched on the wall, the youngest being only 15 years old and the oldest 62 years old.
The Fort Hamilton High School Junior ROTC Honor Guard presented the colors before New York Recruiting Battalion Sgt. First Class Hope Farrell performed the National Anthem.
“This is a wonderful event recognizing the Vietnam War veterans,” Farrell told the Eagle. “It’s such a special occasion and I’m so thankful to be here. I just hope everybody remembers all the soldiers that we lost in that war.”
Fort Hamilton Garrison Chaplain Donald Ehrke offered the invocation. It was followed by a moment of silence and Taps for the fallen soldiers.
Sicoli said that Fort Hamilton was honored to be hosting this commemoration on National Vietnam War Memorial Day.
Retired NYC Commissioner of Veteran’s Services Brigadier General Loree Sutton was among the VIP’s Sicoli thanked for attending the ceremony.
“On this day and during this ceremony we stop to remember our Vietnam veterans, those true heroes who served and sacrificed so much only to return home to jeers and disrespect,” said Sicoli.
Marleen “Molly” Levi was the keynote speaker, who remembered her colleague and longtime partner Patrick “Pat” Gualtieri, a decorated Vietnam veteran who was born and raised in Brooklyn. Gualtieri was the former executive director of the United War Veterans Council, who sponsor the NYC Veterans Day Parade.
Sicoli and Command Sgt. Major (CSM) Tony Stephens presented Levi with a framed magazine cover recognizing her many accomplishments alongside Gualtieri, a Vietnam War veterans coin for her efforts on behalf of all Vietnam War veterans and the Fort Hamilton Commander’s coin recognizing excellence for all she has done for veterans at Fort Hamilton.
The ceremony closed with a service medley of songs from all the branches of the military. When the taped music failed to play, Stephens asked members of the army, marines, navy, air force and coast guard to stand up sing along to their own anthems.
Iraqi War veteran Anna Swanson brought her service dog Orion.
“It’s important for me to be here today to honor our Vietnam War veterans,” said Swanson.
“For the Vietnam vets it’s always an honor to be recognized,” air force veteran Ray Aalbue told the Eagle. “Every year Fort Hamilton takes it upon themselves to make sure that what happened in the past remains in the past. Vietnam vets are always reaching out trying to help all the veterans that are coming home today, all the new veterans. And I’m proud to be a part of the Vietnam veterans of America and I’m proud to be a part of U.S. Army Garrison Fort Hamilton.”
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