62nd AW honors local widows of Vietnam veterans

By Staff Sgt. Frances Kriss/ 62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs on March 26, 2013

The 62nd Airlift Wing hosted a ceremony March 23 to thank and honor Vietnam veterans and their family members living in the local area.

During the ceremony, 16 widows of Vietnam veterans were presented with a certificate of honor from the Department of Defense. The ceremony is part of the DOD's commemoration of the Vietnam War's 50th anniversary, which began May 28, 2012 and is a 13-year program dedicated to paying tribute to Vietnam veterans.

"A grateful nation thanks and honors you and your family for your service and sacrifice," said Col. Wyn Elder, 62nd AW commander and presiding officer for the ceremony. "Your husband answered our nation's call and proudly served in the footsteps of previous generations of American servicemen and women. It is a privilege to present you with this certificate of honor in recognition of the patriotism, service and sacrifice of your husband and family."

Elder emphasized the importance of the ceremony, which among other things, provides an opportunity for current servicemembers to remember and thank those who served before them.

"Your husbands served during a very difficult time and I wish I could thank them personally for their service," he said. "I can't do that, but I can extend my thanks through you and for everything you have done to serve your country."

Many expressed gratitude and some were even surprised when they first took a glance at the certificates.

"I wish my husband was here to see this," said Janis Elliott, one of the honorees. "The certificates looked very nice and the ceremony was great."

The 2008 National Defense Authorization Act authorized the Secretary of Defense to conduct a program to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War and "in conducting the commemorative program, the Secretary shall coordinate, support, and facilitate other programs and activities of the federal government, state and local governments, and other persons and organizations in commemoration of the Vietnam War."