Ceremony honors Vietnam veterans

MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette Vietnam veteran Wayne Peer plays Taps from the balcony during a ceremony honoring U.S. Vietnam War veterans at the Community Arts Center Thursday.

Over 270 Vietnam veterans were honored with Vietnam Service Medal pins and certificates by local government officials on Thursday at the Community Arts Center.

State Sen. Gene Yaw, R-Loyalsock Township; state Rep. Garth Everett, R-Muncy; and Rep. Jeff Wheeland, R-Loyalsock Township, passed out the symbols of gratitude to the Vietnam veterans of Lycoming County, thanking them for their service.

The front of the theater was filled with veterans who served in each of the branches of the armed forces with their families sitting in the back rows for support.

As the pins were distributed, Ken Sawyer, a Vietnam veteran, read off the names of those present and those who lost their lives during the war.

Bill Poulton, president of the Muncy Historical Society and Vietnam veteran, said America was involved in the war to stop communism in order to help those who experienced its negative effects.

During that time of the longest deployment of American troops, those serving had each other’s backs, he said.

“Through it all, we never gave up on each other,” he said.

Everett, who served for 20 years in the Air Force, said the purpose of the ceremony is to recognize the veterans because they had no recognition when they came home.

“We served in a time when it was not popular to wear a uniform,” Yaw said, who served in the Army from 1963-67.

As the war progressed over nearly two decades, it became unpopular in America for people to support the war effort.

He said those who served should be sincerely congratulated.

Wheeland said he wanted to thank the parents of those who have children serving. The worry and concern that a military family must bare is heavy.

“Thank you for making America what it is today,” he said.

The pin has three rings. The outer one reads, “The United States of America Commemoration,” then “Vietnam War” and in the center, “service, valor, sacrifice.”