Vietnam Veterans recognized across Tennessee - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Vietnam Veterans recognized across Tennessee

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Sunday was proclaimed a day to recognize the courage, service, and sacrifice of men and women who served in the Vietnam War across the state of Tennessee by Governor Bill Haslam.

Monday will represent 42 years since President Nixon began withdrawing troops from Vietnam.

Between 1961 and 1975, more than 49,000 Tennesseans served in Southeast Asia. Ken croft was only 18 when he joined in 1964 and spent 13 months, plus an extension in Vietnam.

"I was in communications. I worked my way up from radio operator to running the message center," said Croft. "I worked mostly at night because that was when we got his with rockets the most. The colonel called me in and said at night you're in charge. If anything happens I want to be the first one you wake up. That was no problem, you don't have to wake up too many people when rockets start coming in."

While it was startling at times, he says he often didn't have time to even think about fear. "You get a shot of adrenaline and it just passed you know it's like you watched a movie or something. ‘oh, this is really happening," said Croft.

But after he returned to the U.S,. half the battle was on American soil.

"You got called a few names and stuff around the airport and when you got around family it was kind of like ok, I'm home. It wasn't like today where you see people hanging flags over overpasses," said Croft. "I never understood that. That they wouldn't be behind us even though they might be against the countries policies."

Today he says things are much different and he's reminded often that the time he put in, is appreciated. "I get greeted a lot, just by wearing the hat. They'll come up and shake my hand and say thank you for your service. Now that makes you feel good," said Croft.

If he had to do it all over again for the country he loves, "Yes I would. If I were ordered to go back," said Croft.

The state of Tennessee is a commemorative partner with the United States Department of Defense to formally recognize Vietnam Veterans leading up to the 50th anniversary of the withdrawal of troops which will be in 2023.

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