Thursday, September 17, 2015

Georgia Vietnam Veterans Honored and Remembered

Vietnam veterans get certificates of honor, finally welcomed home
State senator from Gainesville: 'Time to do the right thing'
Gainesville Times
By Jeff Gill
September 16, 2015

Four decades later, Navy Seabee Charles Stallcup still remembers the warning a Marine lieutenant gave warriors returning from Vietnam.

“I’ve got a squadron of Marines here locked and loaded,” the officer said. “If you even act like you’re going to go toward civilians, we will shoot you.”

The encounter, typical of the sort of tensions between veterans and the American public in the late 1960s and early 1970s, still weighs on Stallcup.

But he said Georgia’s efforts to recognize Vietnam veterans with certificate of honor ceremonies, such as one held Wednesday night at the American Legion Post 7 in Gainesville, is “greatly appreciated.”

“I am glad to see the veterans getting some respect,” Stallcup said. “I’m tickled to death veterans coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan are getting the respect they deserve.”
Vietnam veteran Charlie Jones shakes hands with Sen. Butch Miller as he is awarded the “Certificate of Honor” for his military service at the American Legion Post 7 in Gainesville on Wednesday, September 16, 2015. By ERIN O. SMITH (The Times) UPLOADED: Sept. 16, 2015
Among the recipients was Hubert “Gunny” Hunnicutt, whom Roby said is up for the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military award.

Hunnicutt got a standing ovation, but he waved off the attention, saying the ones who died in the battle he was involved in “earned it. I was just there.”

He and others were beaming, though, as they got the certificate.

“These are my troops, ya’ know,” said Hunnicutt, who also fought in the Persian Gulf War 25 years ago. “It’s good to see them get a pat on the back instead of an egg in the face.”

Physical pain still remains, as well, from the war, as John Caldwell and Ralph Lovingood talked about the lingering effects of Agent Orange, a chemical defoliant the U.S. military used to kill vegetation and give the enemy fewer places to hide.

Lovingood, who served in the Air Force, talked about battles he still fights with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

“We went and done what they wanted, and now they won’t take care of us,” he said.

Army veteran Jerry Herman, who was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, said he appreciated the recognition, but he still struggles with his war experiences.
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