U.S. Army honors obligation to recognize Soldiers for Vietnam War service

| July 2, 2018 | 0 Comments
25th Infantry Division Salute Battery fire canons during 196th Infantry Brigade Vietnam VeteransÕ Recognition Ceremony at Fort Shafter, HI on June 29, 2018. The presentation was made during an official military ceremony June 29, 2018, on historic Palm Circle, Fort Shafter, and Oahu. The 196th IN Brigade is still active U.S. Army unit. Today the brigade assists reserve units in Hawaii, Alaska, Guam, American Samoa, Arizona and Saipan, as a Training Support Brigade, provide support to reserve Component Forces throughout the Pacific area. (U.S. Army photo by Jonathan Steffen)

25th Infantry Division Salute Battery fire canons during 196th Infantry Brigade Vietnam Veterans’ Recognition Ceremony at Fort Shafter, Hawaii, on June 29, 2018. The presentation was made during an official military ceremony, June 29, 2018, on historic Palm Circle, Fort Shafter. The 196th Inf. Bde. is still an active U.S. Army unit. Today the brigade assists reserve units in Hawaii, Alaska, Guam, American Samoa, Arizona and Saipan, as a Training Support Brigade and provides support to reserve Component Forces throughout the Pacific area. (U.S. Army photo by Jonathan Steffen)

Story and photos by Jonathan Steffen, 196th Infantry Brigade, Joint Pacific Multinational Readiness Capability

FORT SHAFER — Ten former members of the 196th Light Infantry Brigade were given a long overdue honor ceremony for their service during the Vietnam War.

Although small in numbers, they represented a large number of Soldiers who served in the Southeast Asia conflict but were never given a proper military ceremony to present awards and medals.

(Video by Logan Smith )

“It’s never a wrong time to do something right,” said current 196th Infantry Brigade Commander Col. Robert Berg.

Complete with Soldiers on parade, a military band, and a Howitzer battery salute that thundered across historic Palm Circle June 29, 2018, these Vietnam Veterans of the famed “Charger Brigade” received due recognition for their dedication and loyalty.

“It was well worth the wait to have the brigade that you went to war with to recognize you years and years after that war was over,” said former combat medic Allen Hoe from Honolulu, Hawaii, who received a Bronze Star and Purple Heart at the ceremony.

All of the Soldiers honored performed exceptionally well in combat earning several commendations, but for one reason or another, some never received them. Many of those awards showed up on their military records or came in the mail, some long after their service was complete. Today, the Army fulfilled its traditional obligation to present these medals with an appropriate air of formality and fitting ceremony.

U.S. Army Col. Sean Berg, 196th Infantry Brigade commander, pins medals onto Allen Hoe during 196th Infantry Brigade Vietnam VeteransÕ Recognition Ceremony at Fort Shafter, HI on June 29, 2018. The presentation was made during an official military ceremony June 29, 2018, on historic Palm Circle, Fort Shafter, HI. The 196th IN Brigade is still active U.S. Army unit. Today the brigade assists reserve units in Hawaii, Alaska, Guam, American Samoa, Arizona and Saipan, as a Training Support Brigade, provide support to reserve Component Forces throughout the Pacific area. (U.S. Army photo by Jonathan Steffen)

U.S. Army Col. Sean Berg, 196th Infantry Brigade commander, pins medals onto Allen Hoe during 196th Infantry Brigade Vietnam Veterans’ Recognition Ceremony at Fort Shafter, Hawaii, on June 29, 2018. (U.S. Army photo by Jonathan Steffen)

“These awards presented here today are long overdue,” said Brig Gen. Peter Andrysiak, U.S. Army Pacific Chief of Staff. “Since the Vietnam War, the Army has honed and refined its own Army ethic; the shared beliefs that define our Army culture, and bind us together for one moral purpose. One part of that ethic is how we value people, our most precious resource. And so we are coming together, forty six long years later, to show our appreciation to these distinguish veterans.

“This is an honor to be at this ceremony because most of us Vietnam veterans when we came back that was it, no parade no awards,” said former infantryman Orlando Vazquez from Puerto Rico, who was awarded the Silver Star, Bronze Star, and Purple Heart medals.

U.S. Army Medals sit in a display case before 196th Infantry Brigade Vietnam VeteransÕ Recognition Ceremony at Fort Shafter, HI on June 29, 2018. The presentation was made during an official military ceremony June 29, 2018, on historic Palm Circle, Fort Shafter, and Oahu. The 196th IN Brigade is still active U.S. Army unit. Today the brigade assists reserve units in Hawaii, Alaska, Guam, American Samoa, Arizona and Saipan, as a Training Support Brigade, provide support to reserve Component Forces throughout the Pacific area. (U.S. Army photo by Jonathan Steffen)

U.S. Army Medals sit in a display case before 196th Infantry Brigade Vietnam Veterans’ Recognition Ceremony at Fort Shafter, Hawaii, on June 29, 2018. (U.S. Army photo by Jonathan Steffen)

“This has been a long time coming,” said former cavalryman Larry Johnson of Honolulu, who was presented the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. “I’m glad I was here, in more ways than one. To be honored like I was here today was quite an honor.”

Today’s ceremony was even more significant as it marked the same date, forty six years ago, the unit redeployed from Vietnam.

“When you returned home, there were no parades, yet still you persisted and kept the faith. And so you’re part of a proud military history and your sacrifices will not be forgotten. Your legacy has paved the way for the Army of today,” said Andrysiak.

The 196th Light Infantry Brigade was the first brigade size unit to deploy to Vietnam in July 1966, and it was the last brigade size element to leave the country some six years later. The 196th saw extensive combat during their time in country. The Soldiers participated in many of the wars’ significant battle campaigns and earned citations from both the U.S. and South Vietnamese governments. Six Soldiers of the brigade were awarded the nation’s highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor, while serving in Vietnam.

The 196th Infantry Brigade is still an active U.S. Army unit. Today the brigade assists reserve units in Hawaii, Alaska, Guam, American Samoa, Arizona, and Saipan, as a Training Support Brigade, providing support to Reserve Component Forces throughout the Pacific area. Since 2001, the 196th Infantry Brigade has trained nearly 10,000 Soldiers that deployed to support combat operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Horn of Africa, and the Southern Philippines.

Tags: , , ,

Category: DVIDS, Leadership, News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *