The Times photo by Betsy Reason
U.S. Army veteran Rickie Woods — a past American Legion Commander of Post No. 45 who speaks during a previous Veterans Day event at the Hamilton County War Memorial on the Square in downtown Noblesville — served in Vietnam from 1967-68. Today is National Vietnam Veterans Day.
The Times photo by Betsy Reason U.S. Army veteran Rickie Woods — a past American Legion Commander of Post No. 45 who speaks during a previous Veterans Day event at the Hamilton County War Memorial on the Square in downtown Noblesville — served in Vietnam from 1967-68. Today is National Vietnam Veterans Day.

Two years ago, President Donald J. Trump signed into law the Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act of 2017, designating every March 29 as National Vietnam War Veterans Day.

“This day was chosen, as it was March 29, 1973, when the last of our combat troops left Vietnam,” said Lynn Epperson, Hamilton County Veterans Services officer.

“It was also on that day that the last known living American prisoners of war held in North Vietnam came home, too,” she said. “We still are looking for the 1,251 Missing in Action/Prisoners of War (MIA/POWs) in Vietnam.”

Epperson said there are about 4,300 Vietnam veterans in Hamilton County. 

So, if you know any Vietnam veterans, thank them for their service to our nation.

The United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration honors all U.S. veterans who served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces from Nov. 1, 1955 to May 15, 1975, regardless of location.

The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that there are 6.4 million living Vietnam veterans and nine million families of those who served during this time frame.

As of Sept. 30, 2017, there were 409,836 veterans in Indiana, including 31,169 women veterans, said Epperson, a 1984 Noblesville High School graduate who is a U.S. Air Force veteran and an Army brat.

She said while the Gulf War has the most number of veterans in Indiana, with 140,312, the Vietnam veterans are the second-largest population of veterans, with 123,228; then peacetime service veterans, with 120, 920; Korea, with 20,022; and World War II, with 5,354.

Hamilton County has the fifth-largest veterans population in the state, with 14,111, she said. The other four counties are Marion, with 51,619; Lake, with 29,252; Allen, 21,136; and St. Joseph, with 14,835.

Hamilton County veterans and their dependents received nearly $48.7 million in compensation and pension benefits in 2018.

National Vietnam War Veterans Day is among six other military-centric national observances, including Memorial Day, Independence Day, Veterans Day, Armed Forces Day, National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day and Navy Day.

Don’t know any Vietnam veterans? Look around…

Godby Furniture Store owner Jim Godby, of Carmel, a 1960 Sheridan High School graduate, is a U.S. Army veteran who served in Vietnam from 1964-66.

 What makes Godby smile? 

“I just love that people are recognizing the veterans. They appreciate what I did; I appreciate what all of these guys did,” said Godby, who earned a second lieutenant rank during his training at Purdue University Army ROTC and went on to achieve the rank of captain in the U.S. Army.

Noblesville’s Rickie Woods, a past Noblesville Millers Fan of the Year and who attends lots of sporting events, is a U.S. Army veteran who served in Vietnam from 1967-68.

What makes Woods smile?

“Helping veterans at the Legion,” said the past American Legion Commander of Post No. 45 in Noblesville.

Noblesville’s Ron Wilson, a retired insurance man and substitute teacher, is a U.S. Navy veteran who served in Vietnam from 1965-71.
What makes Wilson smile? 

“When I get phone calls from widows that I’ve helped get VA benefits,” said the president of Hamilton County Veterans, State Commander Navy Club USA Indiana Squadron and past commander and trustee of Navy Club Ship 29 in Noblesville.

Last Saturday, the Horseshoe Prairie Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution welcomed Vietnam veterans to their annual Vietnam Veterans Open House at Noblesville Township Community Building.

While there isn’t a special service planned for today in Hamilton County, the Caroline Scott Harrison Chapter, NSDAR sponsors a special ceremony to honor Indiana’s Vietnam veterans who are Missing in Action (MIA). These 51 men have never been honored before, as a group, in a formal and public way. At 11:30 a.m. today (April 1 in case of inclement weather), Hoosiers will gather on the north side of Monument Circle to honor each soldier with a Brick of Honor. The ceremony will also include key Vietnam veteran groups providing special statewide honors for their fellow servicemen still missing in action.

Epperson said, “We solemnly remember more than 58,000 whose names are etched into the Vietnam (Veterans) Memorial’s polished black granite (in Washington, D.C.), constant reminders of the price of freedom.”

-Contact Betsy Reason at betsy@thetimes24-7.com. This will be Betsy Reason’s last column until after Noblesville Schools’ spring break.