The Price of Freedom - 45th Space Wing Honors and Remembers Vietnam Veterans

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Dalton Williams
  • 45th Space Wing Public Affairs
A UH-1 “Huey” helicopter, used extensively in the Vietnam War, roared over the crowds gathered May 28, 2018, at the Cape Canaveral National Cemetery to honor and pay respects to our Vietnam War veterans in a flyover, but even as thunderous as the “Huey” was, with its blades whirling fast and loud – was quiet compared to the respect given to those that had fallen.

Over 900 people came to the cemetery, where over 3,200 military veterans are buried -- to honor people they knew as their family, their friends, and their brothers-in-arms.

Friends, families, military veterans, and the general public were in attendance, but even if they did not know those buried there personally, it did not matter. The silence of the solemn and respectful crowd that had arrived to honor the sacrifice they made for our freedom was deafening and undeniable.

The National Anthem was performed by retired Lt. Col. Cynthia Watkins-Pishdad at the beginning of the ceremony. Our National Anthem was sung bombastic and subdued all at once. The Vietnam Veterans, weathered, weary, and with prideful tears swelling in their eyes, put one hand over their hearts and looked to the flag that they had fought so hard for. The notes to The Star Spangled Banner lingered in the air for the rest of the ceremony.

After The National Anthem, retired Chief Warrant Officer Frank Anton, who served in the United States Army during the Vietnam War spoke about the harrowing experiences for the 1,897 days. Anton was a POW in the infamous “Hanoi Hilton” before he was rescued.

Anton brought the uniforms that he had worn during his time as a POW and a brick from the Hanoi Hilton building. Anton also had received a Distinguished Flying Cross for his heroic actions during the Vietnam War.

The next speaker of the evening was Brig. Gen. Wayne Monteith, Commander of the 45th Space Wing.

“We can only hope that we are worthy of the sacrifices made by these men and women but also worthy of the family members left behind, for they bear the very same burden of freedom,” said Brig. Gen. Monteith.

Brig. Gen. Monteith then spoke on the importance of Memorial Day and why we continue to remember.

“We remember the lives lost in the name of freedom,” said Brig. Gen. Monteith. “It is our everlasting task to ensure that those sacrifices are never taken for granted.”

At the end of the ceremony taps was performed, the poignant bugle notes offering a somber moment of reflection to the crowd to think about those that gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

After the closing remarks, Brig. Gen. Monteith, Frank Anton, and others went to the front of the stage, holding 50th anniversary Vietnam War pins. One by one they pinned it on each of the two lines of Vietnam veterans who had not yet received the pin. The pinning ceremony was the capstone to the evening, and a reminder of what Memorial Day is actually about. At the end of the ceremony, the crowd’s internal need to thank the heroes in front of them, finally burst out – the veterans and their families received a rapturous amount of applause, louder than the Huey.