ALTOONA, Pa. (WTAJ) — It was momentous occasion on Friday as more than 400 area veterans, were recognized for their service during the Vietnam War era.
In a special ceremony in Altoona, they received a national honor–the Vietnam Veteran Commemoration Lapel Pin.
Some of these vets were mocked or ignored after their service because the Vietnam War was so divisive. But Former Pittsburgh Steeler and Vietnam War Hero Rocky Bleier was among those who came to honor them.
The Blair County Honor Guard presented the colors at the ceremony.
The crowd of Vietnam Veterans remembered their comrades who lost their lives in the war and those whose fate is unknown, Then , they listened intently as Bleier talked about the experience of the Vietnam War Vet..
“That soldier wasn’t given the respect that was needed, for the fact he served his country. He was identified with a conflict . We were spat upon and put down,” he said.
Bleier, who presented the pins to the veterans, said it’s finally time, almost 50 years later, to make sure that they receive their due.
He said, “This whole idea of pinning is a record by the government and a thank you for serving our country by a grateful nation.
John Gority, from Altoona, who lost part of his leg fighting in Vietnam was among those in the filled auditorium to receive his pin.
“It’s something that I think is pretty much a big honor to wear that pin,” he said.
Bleier gave this advice to his fellow Vietnam Vets: “Be proud as an American and also as a Vietnam Veteran because you deserve it–you did good.
The Vietnam War Period Veterans Pinning Ceremony was sponsored by area lawmakers. WTAJ Anchor John Clay, a veteran, was the emcee.