Picnic planned for Vietnam Vets Day

Published 2:37 am Saturday, March 18, 2017

This month marks 44 years since the last American troops left Vietnam, and AMVETS Post 23 in Opp plans to honor veterans of the era with a special event next weekend.

Dennis Cunningham, public relations officer for AMVETS, said this marks the third year the group has held an event to recognize Vietnam Veterans Day.

U.S. combat missions began in Vietnam on Jan. 12, 1962, when Army pilots lifted more than 1,000 South Vietnamese service members over jungle and underbrush to capture a National Liberation Front stronghold near Saigon. Eleven years later, on March 29, 1973, the last American troops left. During those years, 58,000 American soldiers died, and thousands more were injured.

“Vietnam Veterans day is actually on the 29th;\, but we decided to do an event on the 25th because of availability, and when people are off work,” he said. “We still have veterans at center who work during the week, so we wanted to make it convenient.”

In previous years, the event has been staged at Lake Frank Jackson, and about 103 veterans turned out last year.

“It was so cold out there, we like to froze our kiesters off,” Cunningham said. “We moved in our new building in August of last year, so we are planning to be indoors this year.”

The group is hosting a picnic on Sat., March 25, at the AMVETS Service Center located at 203 MLK Drive in Opp. The picnic begins at 1 p.m., and the post will provide hamburgers, hotdogs, baked beans, chips and soft drinks. Veterans are encouraged to bring yard chairs, as seating is limited.

They also are asked to RSVP by calling 334-493-8308, 334-406-2576, or 334-208-1006.

“We are asking people to RSVP, but know we will have others who show up,” he said.

Cunningham said veterans are coming in from Montgomery, Clayhatchee, Florida, Enterprise, and Andalusia.

“We’ll have pins, stickers, and certificates for Vietnam veterans,” he said.

Cunningham is a Vietnam era veteran, but said he was never in country.

“You could have veterans that were onboard ship over there, in Germany or Italy or somewhere else in a support capacity,” he said.