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Vietnam vets receive special recognition

CHARLESTON — For several veterans of the Vietnam War, Veterans Day was not just about celebrating their service to the country, but receiving extra recognition for an unpopular war.

In a ceremony Monday at the Four Points Sheraton in Charleston, 19 Vietnam veterans were awarded the Vietnam Veteran Lapel Pin by U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va. Each veteran received a pin and a letter from President Donald Trump.

“When you came home, you didn’t get a welcome home like our heroes from World War II or other combat arenas,” Capito said to the veterans. “These pins serve formally as a way to tell you as Vietnam veterans thank you for your service, but welcome home.”

The pin, also called a “Welcome Home” pin, was created by the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration to acknowledge the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. Former President Barack Obama signed a proclamation designating May 28, 2012, through Nov. 11, 2025, as a time to recognize Vietnam veterans and their service to the country.

Since Capito has been presenting the Welcome Home pins, more than 100 West Virginia Vietnam veterans have received the pin. Capito’s father, the late Gov. Arch Moore, was a World War II veteran injured in combat.

Capito was in her early 20s during the end of the Vietnam War and saw how those returning from combat in Vietnam were treated. Giving the pins to Vietnam veterans is long overdue, she said.

“When the Vietnam veterans came home in the 60s and 70s, they were not welcomed home. In some cases, they were treated very poorly,” Capito said. “It’s about time we told our Vietnam vets thank you for what you’ve done.”

Two of the Vietnam veterans receiving pins are members of the American Legion Post in Benwood where Moore was a member. Michael Smith and Richard Crumm said they appreciated being honored for their service.

“It feels good,” Smith said. “It was something that wasn’t done and something that needed to be done. There’s a lot of wounds there and this helps in closing them.”

“I didn’t have as much problem as some of the other guys, because I went in the later years,” Crumm said. “I was in during the last three years of Vietnam, so when I came home it was more or less you just came home, so it is nice to be recognized.”

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, more than 9 million Americans served on active duty at some point during the conflict that started in 1955 and ended with U.S. Armed Forces leaving Vietnam in 1975. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates there are more than 6.3 million Vietnam veterans still living as of 2018. Vietnam veterans also are the largest block of veterans, representing 35.5 percent of all veterans.

John Fleming, an assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce, assisted Capito in presenting the pins and proclamations. So far, only Capito is approved by the Department of Defense to present the pins.