August 12, 2015 – MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, S.C. — Marines, veterans and civilians gathered at Waterfront Park in downtown Beaufort for a Vietnam Veterans Tribute, Aug 8.
The event was held to honor the local veterans of the Vietnam War and commemorate a significant milestone in American history.
“When we realized it was the fiftieth year anniversary of the Vietnam War we decided to organize this event,” said Donnie Ann Beer, chairman of Healing Heroes and organizer of the event. “We wanted to give these veterans the welcome home ceremony that many of them never got.”
The event was organized by veteran service organizations in the Beaufort area including Healing Heroes and Veterans of Foreign Wars. Six months of planning went into organizing the tribute.
Veterans of Foreign Wars and Healing Heroes are both non-profit organizations whose mission is to support military veterans and their families, said Dwight Hora, the state quartermaster for the Veterans of Foreign Wars in South Carolina.
According to the Healing Heroes website, they were founded in 2008 in order to assist wounded veterans and help them return to civilian life. Their goal is to bring awareness of the often untreated injuries sustained in war through communication, education, and community outreach.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars have been in the Beaufort area for 53 years and use volunteer support and donations to give back to the community.
The ceremony featured performances from the Parris Island Marine Corps Band as well as civilian performers from the Beaufort area.
Col. Peter D. Buck, the commanding officer of Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, attended the event to show the air station’s support for the local veterans and their families.
Also showing support of the event were volunteers from Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort who handed out water and helped set up tents.
“I just love being able to give back,” said Lance Cpl. Hamilton Curtis, an embarkation combat support specialist with Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 31 aboard MCAS Beaufort. “It is humbling to be around all these older Marines who are the ones who made history.”
Although this event was specifically for veterans of the Vietnam War, service members and veterans of all ages and branches of the military were present.
“We’ve got so many veterans here, young ones, old ones and it’s wonderful to see everyone out here tonight,” said Beer.
Vietnam veterans were honored with respect and appreciation from their fellow service members and the community as a whole.
Beaufort, home to a vast population of active service members, has a large veteran community and many opportunities to give back to those who have served.
“Beaufort is a great town to live in as a veteran,” said Jim Andrews, a retired Marine living in Bluffton. “They always take care of us. It’s a strong military community.”