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Vietnam vets get a stirring welcome | Cincinnati.com | Cincinnati.Com

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. - Tears filled the eyes of some Vietnam veterans who were warmly greeted with cheers from their family and friends Sunday in an re-enactment of their original return from the war, when they were often met with angry demonstrators and harsh headlines.

The ceremony was a first for the 101st Airborne Division and the Army, said Maj. Patrick Seiber, an Army spokesman based at Fort Campbell in Kentucky.

• Photo gallery: 'Welcome home,' Vietnam vets

"Our hope is that other units and other posts will follow our lead in having this type of ceremony," he said.

Mickey Leighton, a 72-year-old Army veteran from Naples, Fla., said listening to the applause and praise from the community was very emotional.

Leighton, who started his military career at Fort Campbell in 1956, served two tours in Vietnam, including during the Tet Offensive. He returned in 1972 in the midst of angry anti-war protests that often placed blame on the soldiers.

"We were treated very shabbily," he said. "In some cases they would throw eggs at us, they would throw empty beer bottles at us and they would call us baby-killers."

He said many soldiers would immediately change clothes because they didn't want to wear their uniforms in public in the late 1960s and early '70s after returning from the war.

"Never in the history of the military have I known of any division or any military installation providing a specific welcome home for Vietnam veterans," Leighton said. "This is very touching."

In contrast, Fort Campbell soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are welcomed back with a ceremony after every deployment, with many completing three or four tours since the wars began.

Army leaders and the community around Fort Campbell collaborated for the Vietnam ceremony, Seiber said. The 101st Airborne Division Association, a group for former soldiers from the division, helped to organize and get the word out.

"I can't think of a better community to do this in than the Fort Campbell community," Seiber said.
Just saw this in my hometown paper, and thought it was pretty cool, much to long overdue, but cool. I know that the kind way I was treated after my last deployment helped smooth out the transition back to garrison life, and I really appreciated it. So to all those Vietnam vets out there, thank you for a job well done, hopefully this pup who wasn't even alive during Vietnam isn't the first to tell you that.
 

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Thanks TJ.Just for myself,the people at the airport hurt much worse mentaly than almost anything I encounted overseas. sj
 

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You are welcome sj, but I'm not TJ. TJ is a good friend of mine who was lost in Iraq last deployment.
 

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A thank you that was long overdue. Thanks to all the vets out there for a job well done. :congrats::congrats: I live just a few miles from Fort Campbell. It is great to the 101st in our neck of the woods.
 

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Buckeye,I'm sorry about your friend,I know how you must feel,but trust me on this.As time goes on the hurt will ease up some.Just remember the good times.They are memories that you will always have. sj
 

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Long over due
 

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Long over due
It was so long over due that I had put it out of my mind, and did not care anymore. On the other hand, the great welcome for our returning soldiers from Desert Storm made up for all of the past indifferences. We regained the pride.
 

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You got that right CW,I was really glad to see all the inspiration and cheers the returning vets got and are still getting.
 

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When I returned thru SEATAC (Seattle/Tacoma) airport in Aug '70, I was cursed, spit on, called some of the most vile names imaginable, and generally made to feel subhuman. Let me be clear...I volunteered to go to SEA and am proud of the job I did. What disillusioned me, was the mindset of the America I returned to. Thankfully, today the great men and women of our military, for the most part, are recognized for the job they do and for the sacrifices that they make and their families make, and are respected by today's society. Be safe my brothers and sisters and come home soon! My hat is off to the folks at Fort Campbell for their efforts in saying "Welcome Home" to the Vietnam era veterans, albeit late, it is at least with sincerity. I too say "Welcome Home" to all my Vietnam brothers and sisters.. THANKS!!!
 

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In the book On Killing by Lt. Col. Grossman, it suggests that the welcome home ceremony is part of an ancient cleansing process the psychologically alleviates some of the stresses brought on by combat. The lack of support America showed its service members upon their return from Vietnam basically prevented those service members from "washing their hands" of the horrors of jungle warfare; thus, their was even more psychological suffering after the war.

It's very important that we as a nation never forget what these brave Americans sacrifice for us, and that we welcome them home with open arms always.
 

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Buckeye,I'm sorry about your friend,I know how you must feel,but trust me on this.As time goes on the hurt will ease up some.Just remember the good times.They are memories that you will always have. sj
Thanks sj, I know it will get better, its a wound that isn't quite as raw, but I got another deployment coming up and new guys to train, so I mostly just have to focus on that.

For all the Vietnam Vets, thanks again.

I actually just finished reading On Killing again, and the part about how Vietnam Vets were treated upon returnign home always makes me sick.
 

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this is great to hear!!!! I truly wish this would have happened along time ago though. There are many many vietnam vets out there and i would like to say personally thank you, you guys suffered both in battle and when you returned home, this is long overdue
 

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To all the Vietnam Vets...WELCOME HOME BROTHERS!!! Glad to see the 101st doing such a great thing!! AIRBORNE!!
 
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