Veteran’s Day: Honoring a Vietnam War Hero 47 Years Later

Sergeant Thomas_NEW

Sergeant First Class Patrick Thomas Jr

Two years ago I reconnected with a group of men I served with in Vietnam. I mentioned a soldier I’ve thought about each day since August 18, 1968, when he performed an act of heroism during an ambush and was severely wounded. At that 2013 reunion I learned his name and began searching for him. To learn more, read a few of my earlier blog posts.

I’ve been invited to participate in a 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War in Rockford, IL, this Veteran’s Day weekend. One of the men who invited me suggested we honor SSgt Thomas.

This November Midway Village Museum is partnering with local Vietnam veterans and the Department of Defense to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War and the role of local soldiers and families in that conflict.

Friday is going to be open to the Rockford Public schools for students and teachers to come and meet veterans, visit display as well as talk to veterans about the war.

On Saturday November 14 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. local veterans will share displays of photographs and artifacts and be available to talk with visitors about their experiences. Displays will include all branches of the military, Medical MASH units, POWS, the use of helicopters in combat, scrapbooks from a Gold Star Mother, and the Purple Heart Society. Cost is $7 adults, $5 ages 3-17. Members are FREE.

Other features of the day include:

A presentation at 12:30 by students of the Harlem High School’s Harlem Vet Project. Students have interviewed Vietnam veterans and will present several minutes each of documentaries based on the experiences of those veterans. Longer documentaries are under development. At 2 p.m. author and Vietnam Veteran Wendell Affield will present a talk on his memoir Muddy Jungle Rivers. Affield was part of the Army’s Mobile Riverine Force in 1968.

On Sunday November 15 join the Museum for a Public Forum on the Vietnam War from 2-4 p.m. Dr. John Votaw, Emeritus Director of the First Division Museum in Wheaton, Illinois will act as Moderator. Panelists include Bronze Star recipient Mary Nichols, American Legion Post Commander and 26 year Army Veteran Dave Davis, Veteran turned Peace Activist Stanley Campbell, and former Marine and Purple Heart recipient Don Allen. Panelists will address how Veterans were treated when they returned home, what the community feelings about the war were, and the way their own feelings about the war have changed over the years. There will be an opportunity for audience questions as well.

1 Comment

  1. Kim and John Gustafson says:

    It was so nice to meet you today and hear your story of being in Vietnam. My husband and I will enjoy reading your book and thanks for signing it for us. I will let you know if I have any questions while I read the book. We will look forward to many more good reads from you, thanks again.

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