Vietnam veterans honored with commemorative medallions in Holyoke

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – A token of appreciation Friday for Vietnam veterans at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home.

One by one, some 80 Vietnam veterans living at the Soldiers’ Home received a commemorative medallion, honoring them from the home base foundation of the Boston Red Sox and the Massachusetts General Hospital.

These men, many in wheel chairs, still remember the pain of being snubbed when they returned from Vietnam.

However, there were some exceptions. Vietnam veteran Stanley Michalski told 22News a happier memory from coming home, “Well I can remember coming back, landing in California, San Fransisco, going through customs and he pointed out, saw me in my uniform, and he says ‘welcome home.’”

As Holyoke Soldiers Home superintendent Bennett Walsh and visiting dignitaries presented the veterans with “The Home Base Vietnam Commemorative Medallions,” each veteran recalled the disrespect they suffered when they came home.

Vietnam veteran Edgar Junkins told 22News, “Not very good, you learned to live with it.”

In this small way, in the twilight of their years, these Vietnam veterans found solace in the gift from an organization devoted to making things right to soldiers who deserved respect back then and now.