Vietnam War Veterans Day: 51st anniversary of last combat troops returning home

Friday, March 29, 2024, is National Vietnam War Veterans Day. This year coincides with the  51st anniversary of the last combat troops returning home from the Vietnam War.

It’s a day to honor the sacrifice and service made by those who fought in the Vietnam War and the challenges they faced, even after returning from combat. More than 58,000 men and women were killed as a result of the war. The Central Coast has more than 17,000 veterans from all conflicts, but each one had their own unique experience while serving. Five decades later, those memories stick with our veterans.

“I have my little mini flashbacks every time I hear a helicopter because I served in the 1st Cav (Cavalry), which was airmobile at the time,” said Bart Topham, a Vietnam veteran and the Central Coast Veterans Memorial Museum Director and President. “Good things and bad things, you know? We all lost friends. Even in a combat situation, when you’re on a break or you’re sitting around, you’re talking about normal things. You’re talking about games and books at home and jokes. You’re trying to be normal, and that’s a common denominator.”

Topham says on a day like this, take a moment of reflection to honor veterans for answering the call of duty, as well as honor the active military for what they continue to do.

“We remember those that gave all, and we honor those who served.”

By: Neil Hebert



Vietnam Veterans Day is annually observed on March 29. It commemorates the hardships suffered and sacrifices made by nine million Americans during the Vietnam War. However, the holiday does not only honor the former soldiers but also their families who supported them before and after the war.

The Vietnam War was a lengthy and costly conflict between Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. It occurred from November 1, 1955, to April 30, 1975 — a total of 19 years before the fall of Saigon. As Vietnam’s principal ally, the participation of the U.S. significantly determined the fate of the war. In 1961, former U.S. President John F. Kennedy sent a team to Vietnam to report their conditions. It was found that there was an American buildup of economic, military, and technical aid to Ngo Dinh Diem to defeat the Viet Cong. Due to the “domino theory,” which suggests that if one Southeast Asian country falls, the others will follow, Kennedy increased the American aid in Vietnam. By 1962, the U.S. military presence in the country reached up to 9,000 troops.

By March 1965, U.S. aid continued in Vietnam with the support of Lyndon Johnson, Kennedy’s successor. By June of the same year, American troops reached 82,000. A month later, 100,000 more troops were delegated, and 100,000 more a year later. By November 1967, the number of U.S. troops reached 500,000: however, 15,058 were killed, and 109,527 were wounded.

On November 5, 1969, there was a massive anti-war movement in Washington. More than 250,000 Americans participated, calling for the withdrawal of military troops from Vietnam. On March 29, 1973, U.S. President Richard Nixon officially withdrew the American combat forces from Vietnam. A year later, the first Vietnam Veterans Day was held.


Visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
One of the most popular places to visit during Vietnam Veterans Day is the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. It’s an iconic place where people pay respect to the fallen soldiers who sacrificed their lives during the grueling 19-year war in Vietnam. Worthy of visiting every day of the year.

Support war veterans’ mental health groups
Veterans suffered from post-war P.T.S.D. and depression. By donating to war veterans’ mental health groups, you’re helping soldiers get information, treatment, and therapy for all war-related mental illnesses they have developed. A noble cause to support every day, every year.

Donate to Paralyzed Veterans of America
You can also show your support by donating to the Paralyzed Veterans of America organization. It aims to help war veterans who endured physical distress and paralysis. You can help them through these programs to make their lives more comfortable. Donate to the PVA and every other veterans’ organizations—they all need your financial support.

God bless our veterans, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America!

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