Vietnam veterans honored at US base in Germany
By MARTIN EGNASH | STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 24, 2017
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — More than 30 veterans of the Vietnam War living in Germany were awarded pins Tuesday by the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post in recognition of their service.
The pins are part of the Vietnam War commemoration effort signed into effect by former President Barack Obama in 2012 to recognize troops who fought in Vietnam and often came home to an unwelcoming U.S. public. They were awarded at the Grafenwoehr Veterans Appreciation Day event on base.
“The Vietnam veterans have gone all these years without proper recognition,” James Joyce, VFW Tower Post 10692 commander, said during a ceremony at U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria. “A lot of them still feel the country never recognized their service. This is an opportunity to show them our appreciation.”
More than 1,600 veterans of wars ranging from WWII to modern day conflicts are associated with the garrison, many of whom served in Germany during their career and decided to stay. One of them was Baldemar Guevera, who met his future wife when he was stationed here with the 2nd Cavalry Regiment in Amberg.
“Nowadays the American soldier is well-loved,” Guevera said. “But it wasn’t like that when we came home. The veterans were treated disrespectfully when they came home. And now the government and everyone is showing respect and acknowledging what we did.”
During the ceremony, VFW staff spoke with veterans and active-duty soldiers stationed on base to build an understanding of what it was like for the soldiers coming home from Vietnam.
“We have to pass the word on to the new soldiers, to let them know about the sacrifices (Vietnam veterans) made, and to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” Joyce said. “That our younger soldiers will not be forgotten, like so many Vietnam (veterans) were.”