Vietnam veterans get warm welcome home

Friends and family members celebrated the sacrifices and honored the service of those who served in Vietnam.
Friends and family members celebrated the sacrifices and honored the service of those who served in Vietnam.

PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - The City of Pass Christian and the VFW Post celebrated the service and honored the sacrifices of Vietnam veterans from South Mississippi the way it should have been done nearly 40 years ago.

About 50 Vietnam veterans were honored in the ceremony in front of friends and family members.

It was also an opportunity for veteran, psychologist and filmmaker Dr. Harold Dawley to create a documentary about the negative experiences Vietnam veterans faced after their service was over.

"Men and women in combat frequently come home with guilt, survivor guilt, over what they did or did not do," Dawley said. "All of that can be mitigated if they come home welcomed as heroes. Guys coming back from Vietnam weren't treated that way. They came home with hostility at worst and indifference at best."

The event featured special music and speakers like Naval Construction Battalion Center Commander Capt. Paul Odenthal and former U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor.

It meant a good deal to veteran and former Hancock County Sheriff Ronnie Peterson.

"There wasn't any bands and nobody saying welcome home and greeting you for the services you were in and what you gave to your country," Peterson said. "So, this really means a lot to us."

VFW Commander, Navy veteran and Pass Christian Fire Chief Dwight Gordon said the event was something long overdue.

"The ones we honored today came home when I was a youngster, and I didn't understand at that point the importance of welcoming home military members from combat and service and deployment," Dwight said. "I spent 20 years in the military, and I saw what it meant to me when I did come home."

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