NMI honors Vietnam War veterans

GOVERNOR Ralph D.L.G. Torres and Lt. Gov. Victor B. Hocog on Wednesday signed a proclamation designating March 28, 2018 as Vietnam War Veterans Day.

 The signing ceremony was held at the American Memorial Park Court of Honor where the governor, Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan, Saipan Mayor David M. Apatang, Vietnam War veterans, spouses and servicemembers laid a wreath in honor of U.S. military personnel who were killed in action or who have passed away.

“We honor all those who answered our nation’s call to duty,” the proclamation stated. “With strong conviction, our nation pledges our enduring respect, our continuing care, and our everlasting commitment to all Vietnam veterans.”

The governor said the CNMI joins the rest of the nation in “embracing the responsibility” to help Vietnam War veterans and their families “heal from the heavy toll of war.”

The nation remembers and pays tribute to the more than 58,000 U.S. servicemembers who were killed in the Vietnam War, and to the brave patriots who suffered as prisoners of war. There are still 1,253 U.S. military personnel who served in Vietnam and have not yet returned to American soil.

In his remarks, Brig. Gen. Roderick R. Leon Guerrero, adjutant general of the Guam National Guard, said: “In recent times…Vietnam War veterans were not afforded the proper recognition that seems so prevalent and readily available today. We have learned with great pain their selfless service when they fought. We acknowledge the poor recognition and service they received when they returned home.”

He said 50 years after the war, many Vietnam veterans continue to feel the effects of their service.

“Some battled with post-traumatic stress disorder. Others fought illnesses caused by their exposure to Agent Orange and other chemical defoliants sprayed during the Vietnam War.

“Equally and individually, Vietnam veterans should be proud of their accomplishments and know they had a positive impact,” he said.

Also on Wednesday, Veterans Affairs handed certificates and pins to the spouses of Vietnam War veterans including Dorothea Cepeda, wife of the late Isidro T. Cepeda; Celina D.L.G. Chargualaf, wife of the late Matias A. Chargualaf; Rosa M. Dela Cruz, wife of the late Gabriel D. Dela Cruz; Trinidad T. Demola, wife of the late Russell Demola; Lin Wang Hirshbein, wife of the late Barry Hirshbein; Maria Malua T. Peter, wife of the late David K. Peter; and Jin Ping Woodruff, wife of the late Robert Woodruff.viet4Government officials led by Gov. Ralph D.L.G. Torres pose with Vietnam War veterans, spouses and servicemembers at American Memorial Park for the Vietnam War Veterans Day proclamation signing, Wednesday. Photo by Lori Lyn C. LirioIn an interview, Frank Cepeda, son of Isidro Cepeda, said he and his mother were happy that his father and other Vietnam War veterans were finally given recognition and honor.

“When he came back, I saw people throwing stuff [from the garbage] at him,” Frank Cepeda said, adding that he was nine or 10 years old when his father returned from Vietnam.

“We were praying the whole time, every day, when he was out there fighting in Vietnam,” Frank Cepeda said. “I saw him suffer. I suffered, too, because I didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t know any of what he did in Vietnam. When I was growing up and talked to people that he served with, that’s when I learned what kind of a hero he was.”

Source: Marianas Variety :

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