Lower Cape Fear LifeCare hosts event for Vietnam War veterans at USS North Carolina
WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) —Wednesday, March 29, is National Vietnam War Veterans Day, marking 50 years since troops left South Vietnam. Lower Cape Fear Lifecare hosted a special “Welcome Home Veterans” event on the USS North Carolina.
Dozens of people gathered for the appreciation program on the deck of the Battleship. Local leaders and Vietnam veterans spoke at Lower Cape Fear LifeCare’s “Welcome Home Veterans” event, along with tributes by the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station New River Color Guard, and West Brunswick High School jazz ensenble.
Vietnam Veterans are the largest living group of veterans in the country.
“The feel of the day is just to honor and celebrate those who didn’t exactly get that 50 years ago,” said Laura Long, Lower Cape Fear LifeCare Volunteer Program Coordinator.
One of the veterans who attended the event said it meant a lot to him.
“I’m so happy, I mean –you know, the recognition, talking to all the guys, being happy I’m still here. After all these years…you know, 50 years now,” said Anthony Mortillaro, Vietnam veteran.
Another veteran, Davis Gibbs, says he remembers the day he came home from the Vietnam War.
“In march of 1970, my company was the first one to pull out of Vietnam. Lost a lot of guys, but we came home on a ship,” said Davis Gibbs,
Gibbs says he drove from Shallotte to attend the appreciation program, and says he and many others who served during and after the Vietnam War, did not receive a hero’s welcome when they came home a half century ago.
“We were treated really bad. We were met at the beach where we landed on the LST, and we were called baby killers and murderers, and everything else, and we were treated really bad, and you never get over it. Oh this is great, it was the welcoming home we never had, –and it’s really tough. It took 50 years to get remembrance,” said Gibbs.
Vietnam veterans were greeted with colorful posters made by students at Williston and Murray middle schools.
The veterans also received free admission to the Battleship North Carolina for today’s event.