Story by SA Travis Decker on 04/02/2019Bataan's Heritage Committee hosted a flag folding vigil in honor of the men and women who fought valiantly during the Vietnam War, March 29.
Sailors aboard the amphibious assault ship, USS Bataan (LHD-5), gathered on the mess Friday to recognize the service of Vietnam veterans as part of the Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act of 2017 signed by president Donald Trump.
During the ceremony, 13 bells were rung in conjunction with 13 flag folds to honor the sacrifice of the men and women who served, who fought and fell along with those who were captured that became prisoners of war, and the ones yet to come home. Bataan Sailors read the timeline of Vietnam War events between each bell and flag fold.
Between 1956 to 1975, 2.5 million Americans served during the Vietnam War, more than 58,000 Americans sacrificed their lives in service to our nation. The average age of service members during the war was 21 years-old compared to World War II which was 26 years-old. The average infantryman saw at least 240 days of combat within a year compared to World War II that saw an average of 40 days of combat in four years. An Estimated 4 million Vietnamese service members and civilians both North and South were killed during the conflict. The American service members who returned home from war, were treated with disdain and shunned for their service unbefitting a hero's welcome.
"Our veterans answered our country's call and served with honor, and on March 29, 1973, the last of our troops left Vietnam," said Command Master Chief Ryan Lamkin. "Yet, in one of the war's most profound tragedies, many of these men and women came home to be shunned or neglected, to face treatment unbefitting their courage and a welcome unworthy of their example. We must never let this happen again. Today, we reaffirm one of our most fundamental obligations. To show all who have worn the uniform of the United States the respect and dignity they deserve, and to honor their sacrifice by serving them as well as they served us. Half a century after those helicopters swept off the ground and into the archives of history, we pay tribute to the fallen, the missing, the wounded, the millions who served, and the millions more who awaited their return. Our nation stands stronger for their service, and on National Vietnam Veterans Recognition Day, we honor their proud legacy with our deepest gratitude."
Following the recognition ceremony Bataan's triad and ceremony participants gathered to cut the ceremonial cake marking the end of the event.
Bataan is currently home-ported at Naval Station Norfolk.