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Vietnam era veterans honored at Coos County tribute event

(SBG photo)

COOS BAY, Ore. -- Vietnam veterans and community members gathered at the Coos History Museum Friday to pay tribute to the military and shine a light where there wasn't one for so long.

Beginning with the Color Guard procession and Pledge of Allegiance, the event paid tribute to Vietnam era veterans in Coos County.

One of those is Steven Hilton, a Navy veteran.

"I come to these events not so much for myself but for my fellow veterans that are no longer able to attend," Hilton said.

He reflected on his time during the Vietnam War when he says society had a negative view of the military with anti-war movements, something still engrained in his memory.

"For so many years we didn't speak about it,” he recalled. “A lot of the people that were opposed to the war were opposed to the guys fighting it."

It’s something Senior Coast Guard Chief Thomas Hines says makes these events so important.

"I think, as a nation, we've looked back and realized that honoring and remembering our veterans from every conflict is important," Hines said.

This is the first year the Coast Guard handed out commemorative lapel pins, making it extra-special for Hines, who honored his late father, a World War II veteran.

"I never had the opportunity to thank my father, officially, as another uniform-wearing member of the military,” Hines said, “so, this is a really special opportunity to say thank you."

This marks the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. The Obama administration set aside 13 years for Vietnam war tributes; we’re currently in the 6th year.

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