HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Vietnam veterans at the Holyoke Soldiers Home were saluted Friday for their service to their country, 50 years after the war escalated in Southeast Asia.
During the war, 500,000 Americans were sent to Southeast Asia, and more than 58,000 American troops died there. It was a controversial conflict that ended more than 40 years ago. When those veterans came home, rarely was it to a hero’s welcome.
“Coming back on the airlines and you get off, and you’re looked at kind of like you had two heads or something, and people were murmuring or mumbling something, and you knew it wasn’t good,” Chicopee veteran David Murphy said.
Nearly 80 Vietnam vets now live at the Holyoke Soldiers Home, and they have been honored with a commemorative pin, and also recognized for their service and sacrifice.
It wasn’t always this way. When Ted Dickson returned from his tour on a nuclear submarine in 1968, he was spat on and ridiculed.
“So being around all these people that were in Vietnam too, that basically went through the same thing that I did- there weren’t many of us that got a warm welcome,” Dickson said. “This is the first time that I’ve been recognized for my service in Vietnam that was positive.”
For Ted and David, and for many of the Vietnam vets, Friday’s ceremony helps to heal old wounds and ease the pain- and finally get their welcome home.