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Midstate vet pushes for Vietnam Veterans Recognition Act

Written by Rick Lee/York Daily Record | Mar 28, 2017 1:33 PM
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Harold Redding, 68, of Spring Grove, poses for a portrait on May 4, 2016 in Hanover. Redding served in Vietnam and is pushing lawmakers to make March 29 a National Vietnam Veterans Day. (Photo: Clare Becker, The Evening Sun)

Former Army Sgt. Harold Redding does not want his fellow vets forgotten

(Undated) -- As he turned 19 in Vietnam, Army Sgt. Harold Redding's thoughts drifted from finishing his tour and going home to Spring Grove to what if he didn't survive the war.

He said he asked himself, "Who would remember me?"

Redding did make it through the war, and for more than the past two years has worked, lobbied and campaigned for a national day to specifically remember Vietnam War veterans, living and dead.

While there are Vietnam War memorials in Washington D.C. and throughout the states, including here in York, there is no day on which those war veterans are remembered and honored for their service in Vietnam.

American Tim Blessing and Australian Colin Gibson met briefly during the Vietnam War and exchanged uniform shirts. Blessing recently tracked down Gibson by the name in the shirt and met in person for the first time since. Paul Kuehnel

 

Monday, Redding joined Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., in a teleconference call. Toomey, who sponsored a bill prompted by Redding's efforts, said the bill had made it through Congress and is waiting only for a presidential signature.

Although some American troops remained in Vietnam until the fall of Saigon, the last combat soldiers choppered out on March 29, 1973.

If Toomey's bill is signed by President Trump, March 29 of each year will be designated as Vietnam Veterans Recognition Day.

Toomey said the troops who served honorably in Vietnam have waited too long for the recognition of their sacrifices.

"Most of  the returning veterans were not treated with the respect they deserved," Toomey said.

The senator said many Americans could not separate the unpopular war from the soldiers who fought in it, and directed their animosity toward the returning troops.

Because of inaccurate record keeping, the precise number of troops who served in-country during the Vietnam War is not known, according to The American War Library. The library's best estimate is that 2.7 to 3.2 million Americans served military duty in Vietnam.

Of those who served in Vietnam, 648,000 young men were drafted and 17,725 draftees died in combat, according to VFW magazine.

Approximately 850,000 Vietnam vets are still living.

Redding said he does not want any Vietnam vet to be forgotten.

This story is part of a partnership between WITF and the York Daily Record.

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