To mark Missouri's first Vietnam Veterans Day, Gov. Jay Nixon today recognized four military veterans from that era in a ceremony in the Governor's Capitol office. The veterans honored by Gov. Nixon and Maj. Gen. Stephen L. Danner, Adjutant General of Missouri, represented service in the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps during the Vietnam War era.
"These four men proudly served their country during a difficult conflict, and demonstrated the sacrifice and bravery that has been a hallmark of those men and women who wear our nation's uniform," Gov. Nixon said. "Many of the veterans who served during Vietnam did not receive the kind of public welcome and celebration they deserved when they returned. While we can't turn back the clock to give them that welcome, we can honor and thank them today for their service to our country. That's the purpose of this day."
Steven Hill, of Webb City, served seven months as a first sergeant in the U.S. Army in four hostile fire zones in Vietnam before being wounded. John Albright, of Sunrise Beach, was a U.S. Navy lieutenant during the war who served as Boat Group Commander on the amphibious cargo ship USS St. Louis, operating in and out of Da Nang Harbor; as a captain in the Naval Reserve Force after the war, he was commanding officer of five different commands, including the fast frigate USS Blakely and the guided missile fast frigate USS Clifton Sprague. Michael Puckett, of Camdenton, served as a master sergeant in the U.S. Air Force at locations around the world during Vietnam, and also served in support of Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield. David Coleman, of House Springs, was a sergeant with the U.S. Marine Corps, and was wounded in the Battle of Khe Sanh.
Gov. Nixon and Maj. Gen. Danner presented each of the veterans with a special medal, coin and certificate authorized to be presented from the state of Missouri to Vietnam-era veterans in gratitude for their courage and sacrifice.
Last year, Gov. Nixon signed into law a bill designating March 30 of each year as Vietnam Veterans Day in Missouri. The day is designated to encourage Missourians to observe the day "with appropriate events, activities and remembrances in honor of the veterans who bravely fought, served and sacrificed during the Vietnam Conflict."