USS KIDD to hold 'welcome home' ceremony for Vietnam veterans

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A ceremony to give a proper "welcome home" honor to Vietnam veterans will be held Saturday, March 25 at the USS KIDD.

"It's all about saying 'Thank You' and 'Welcome Home,'" said Tim NesSmith, Educational Outreach Coordinator for the USS KIDD.  "To that end, several of our local veterans support organizations are coming down early that morning to tie yellow ribbons around all of the trees and light poles of the surrounding grounds.  It's just one more way to say 'We're glad you're home.'"

The event will begin at 11 a.m. at the Louisiana Memorial Plaza. Col. Joey Strickland, USA (Ret.) will serve as the keynote speaker.

"We will be honoring those men and women who served our country during the Vietnam War," said David Beard, Executive Director of the USS KIDD Veterans Museum. "From the Ia Drang Valley, to the Tet Offensive, to the fall of Saigon, and to bases in the United States, these men and women gave up the best years of their lives to serve their country in a war that was not popular. But we must always honor their sacrifice, no matter the thoughts about a particular conflict."

A 1/9 scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is on display courtesy of Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 488. VVA 488 also helped the museum acquire and restore an A-7E Corsair IIjet aircraft in 1993-94. Corsairs first deployed in Vietnam and were retired shortly after Operation Desert Storm.

"There were 907 sons of Louisiana killed in action during the Vietnam War and their names are engraved here on the walls of the Louisiana Memorial Plaz," states a press release. "A significant number of inductees in the museum's Hall of Honor served in Vietnam, including one Medal of Honor recipient."

The event is free and open to the public.

Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 488 will be selling hot dogs on the grounds after the ceremony, with drinks available for purchase in the museum gift shop.  Big River Express will be performing classics from the 1960s and early 1970s at the Riverfront Stage. Several local veterans service and patriotic organizations will have informational tables set up throughout the museum.

For more information on this event, call (225) 342-1942.

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