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Leon County's Vietnam Veterans Honored Over Weekend

Forty years ago U.S. soldiers returned home after an almost 20 year war in Vietnam. The Leon County Commission honored the veterans with a well-deserved welcome home ceremony Saturday.

Close to 60,000 American service members lost their lives and almost 2,000 remain missing in action after the twenty-year old Asian conflict. But, when those that survived finally returned home, most were greeted with angry protests and not open arms. Leon County Commission Chairman Nick Maddox read from a proclamation seeking to finally and formally welcome the veterans home.

“Now therefore be it resolved by the board of County Commissioners of Leon County, Florida that Saturday, March 30th, 2013 be declared as welcome home Vietnam veteran day,” Maddox read.

The event included speeches by various Vietnam veterans and their families. Meg Baldwin, the daughter of Vietnam veteran Major General James Baldwin, read a letter from her father while he was serving in 1970. Baldwin’s father wrote about one heroic army leader.

“The dedicated sergeant, who led his platoon for seven months without a single casualty while winning four awards for personal heroism, then lost both his legs, but has no resentment,” Baldwin wrote.

More than 150 of Florida’s 450,000 Vietnam veterans attended the event where they received a copy of the commission’s proclamation and a ceremonial coin. One of the veterans who attended was retired Sergeant Major Michael Compton, who had his doubts about the motivation behind the event.

“Is it politically motivated or is it really somebody wanting to say thank you for your service, thank you for Vietnam,” Compton said.

But after the ceremony concluded Compton had no doubts about its sincerity.

“Today I- I didn’t feel that. I felt like it was a genuine I care,” Compton said.

Compton says when he first came home he hid his service, now he’s happy that he and his brothers and arms can proudly say they fought in Vietnam.