Homecoming celebration planned for Vietnam veterans in Chattanooga
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. —
A welcome home celebration more than 50 years in the making.
Bud Alley fought in the battle of Ia Drang. The battle was the first offensive involving U.S. forces in the Vietnam war.
"51 years ago we were in combat. We left the United States one guy at a time. We came home one guy at a time," Bud Alley said. "We left that world over there. Nobody said welcome home except our families. Nobody knew we'd been gone except our families. So it's very important that we at one time be validated even if it's 50 years late. It's better than never."
There will be a three day event on March 27, 28 , and 29th in Chattanooga, Tennessee to honor thousands of Vietnam Veterans from Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Mr. Alley and other members of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 203 and the Chief John Ross Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution have been planning this homecoming celebration for most of the last year.
"The city and county have been both generous providing both a space both here (First Tennessee Pavilion) and at the Tivoli Theater downtown, the DAR ladies have been magnificent with their support." Mr. Alley said.
"It's free of charge. There's no obligation for those who want to attend so it's just a wonderful no pressure way for them to come out, and for us to be able to say thank you," Natalie Blackwell with the DAR said.
The first night will be at the Tennessee Pavilion. They will honor the Vietnam Veterans from Hamilton County, nine surrounding counties in Tennessee and four North Georgia counties.
On the second day they will show the movie We Were Soldiers at the Tivoli. The movie tells the story of the fighting at the Ia Drang Valley. There will be three showings with a panel discussion after each one.
The final night will be at the national cemetery honoring those killed in action during the war.
"I had a brother over there who was 100% disabled. I had another brother over there that was killed and myself being over there. I have another brother who served in the Air Force during that era. So yeah, it's very important to me," Vietnam veteran Bill Norton said.
They say they need Vietnam veterans from the area to show up at the First Tennessee pavilion on Monday March 27th from 530-730 to be honored. They are also looking for financial help to pay for the event.
"We'd love to have some sponsors," Mr. Alley said. "If anybody would care to make a donation we'd be more than happy to receive it."
If you would like to donate make checks payable to VVA Chapter 203 Special Events. You can send donations to PO Box 23405, Chattanooga, TN 37422. You can learn more and contact the organizers on their Facebook page.