Vietnam veterans remembered 50 years later in Londonderry
Vietnam veterans were the guests of honor Saturday during a special luncheon commemorating the 50th anniversary of Vietnam War Recognition Day. (APRIL GUILMET/Union Leader Correspondent)
“I just didn’t want to talk about it,” said Costa, who was drafted into the Army at age 21.
“We just didn’t feel very appreciated,” he added.
Today, those who fought in the Vietnam War are coming to terms with their often-painful pasts, with many trading in their years of silence for the sense of pride and camaraderie they’d previously only felt comfortable sharing with their fellow servicemen and women.
Manchester resident Billy Large, an active member of the local American Legion post, organized the event in hopes of honoring his brothers in arms.
Large’s battles continued when he returned home. He suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries.
During two weeks, Large raced to put together plans, determined the 50th anniversary day wouldn’t pass without fanfare.
Large approached Post Commander Bob Stuart, who gave Large his blessing.
“I marched in big parades and was showered with thanks,” said Stuart. “But in the Vietnam era, things were so different.”
Opening the celebration up to any area veterans, Large posted an invitation on the Post’s Facebook page and also placed announcements in area newspapers.
Marine Corps veteran Eugene Grivois, who served in Vietnam from 1964-1965, said he was pleased to partake in Saturday’s celebration.
“You just can’t do enough for all these guys,” he said.
“The welcome we received coming home wasn’t exactly gracious,” the Londonderry resident said.
Torre added that it “probably took him about 15 or 20 years to talk about Vietnam out in the open.
Both agreed that things have changed for the better, noting that nearby schools in Derry and Londonderry regular host events, such as veterans’ breakfasts, to show appreciation for those who served.
Northwood resident Jim Lutz, a gunner on a destroyer ship, said he completed three, 6- to 8-month tours in Vietnam between 1968-1970.
Growing up in the small town of Fremont, Lutz said it was relatively easy to jump back into civilian life and he remained proud of the work he’d accomplished in his Naval career.
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