2017-04-20 / News

Honors … 50 years in the making

Vietnam-era veterans recognized for their service
BY LANIA ROCHA
810-452-2652 • lrocha@mihomepaper.com


American Legion Post 294 Chaplain John Gilbert receives his pin from Dylan Hellus, regional coordinator for U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, during a ceremony Thursday, April 13, at the legion. 
Photo by Lania Rocha American Legion Post 294 Chaplain John Gilbert receives his pin from Dylan Hellus, regional coordinator for U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, during a ceremony Thursday, April 13, at the legion. Photo by Lania Rocha CLAYTON TOWNSHIP – When John Kayanek was discharged from the U.S. Army in 1971, he couldn’t wait to ditch his uniform so no one would know that he’d served in the military.

“They made us wear our uniforms to the airport to fly home,” recalls Kayanek, commander of American Legion Post 294 in Swartz Creek, who served in Germany during the Vietnam War.

“There were protests by the airport. People were giving us the finger. Nobody cared about us. It was disappointing. They treated us like outsiders. We were treated like we were our own enemies in our own home.”

Thursday, April 13, Kayanek and about 50 other Vietnam-era veterans from Post 294 received commemorative lapel pins to recognize their service.

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters presented the pins at the Post as part of a national effort to honor the 50th anniversary of the war.

“The men and women who served in the Vietnam War did not ask to fight, but they answered the call to serve their nation with courage and honor,” said Peters, a member of the Senate Armed Services and Homeland Security committees and former lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve.

Pins were awarded to former military personnel who served in active duty during the war, which erupted Nov. 1, 1955, and ended April 30, 1975.

Kayanek said it was “a great honor” for the U.S. government to recognize the Vietnam veterans and Vietnam-era veterans.

Former President Barack Obama proclaimed May 28, 2012, through Nov. 11, 2025, as the Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War, a time to thank a “generation of proud Americans who saw our country through one of the most challenging missions we have ever faced.”

In doing so, he called upon federal, state and local officials to honor Vietnam veterans, the fallen, the wounded, those who are unaccounted for, former prisoners of war, their families and all who served.

In doing so, he referred to America’s participation in the war as “a chapter in our nation’s history that must never be forgotten.”

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