Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Welcome Home Last Patrol Remembrance From Rolling Thunder

‘Welcome Home’ event aimed at saluting Vietnam veterans
Tampa Tribune
Linda Chion Kenney
Special Correspondent
April 20, 2016

“We don’t make the policies,” he said. “We don’t make those decisions. We follow the orders we’re given. We perform our duties. We perform our duties and serve with honor.”
U.S. Navy commander and Vietnam veteran Bradley E. Smith Ex-POW
After “The Last Patrol” performance by Rolling Thunder, members, from left, Mike Vitel, Doc Watson and Bill Marion pose by a Vietnam-era helicopter at the Vietnam Memorial at Hillsborough County’s Veterans Memorial Park. LINDA CHION KENNEY
TAMPA — Soldiers seasoned and battle-scarred, and the people who support them, stood in solidarity and solemnity March 26 at Veterans Memorial Park, where “welcome home” was the order of the day for the men and women called to service in the Vietnam War era.

In her very personal remarks, chaplain Linda J. Pugsley, a retired lieutenant colonel, who volunteered for two tours of duty in Vietnam as an aeromedical evacuation nurse, recounted the “soaking, soaking rains” and the “scorching, scorching heat” of Vietnam.

“We are valiant people who served with unswerving bravery in that hostile, unfriendly, ungodly Vietnam,” said Pugsley, who in 1978 resigned her position as flight nurse with the rank of major, to pursue her career in the ministry. “We served our country and our fellow warriors in that most brutal and unwise war. Some of us saw mayhem that none of us should have seen, yet we did not run.”

Vietnam veterans are heroes, she added, deserving of appreciation for “what they did and all that they gave up.”
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