Army & Air Force Exchange Service Honors Sacrifices of Vietnam Veterans Worldwide

March 30, 2018 12:50 PM

Denise Lundie, main store manager with the Army & Air Force Exchange Service, attaches a commemorative pin to a Vietnam Veteran's pocket during commemoration ceremonies at the Grafenwoehr store.

 Photo By Sergeant 1st Class Tim Meyer

Vietnam-era Veterans received lasting mementos to honor their sacrifice during pinning ceremonies at Army & Air Force Exchange Service stores around the world on March 29—National Vietnam War Veterans Day. The lapel pins, provided in partnership with the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration, are a token of the Nation’s appreciation for these heroes, who, decades ago, did not receive the homecomings they deserved.

Purple Heart recipient James Mebane, of Flower Mound, Texas, was among the Vietnam-era Veterans who came to Exchange headquarters in Dallas on March 29 to be honored with a lapel pin. Mebane was drafted on Dec. 27, 1967, just four days after his 20th birthday. During his first assignment at Fort Myer, Va., Mebane recalls having to drive an ambulance from Rader Army Clinic to Walter Reed Army Medical Center through Georgetown University, where students would shake and spit on the vehicle. In Vietnam, Mebane served as a combat medic in Bravo Troop, 3rd Squadron, 4th Armored Calvary Regiment, 25th Infantry Division. He has reconnected with several men whose lives he saved during the War, including a man on whom he performed a quadruple amputation, at a handful of troop reunions.

Mebane said the public has been slow to recognize the sacrifices he and his fellow Vietnam Veterans made. He can’t remember being thanked for his service until after 9/11. The Exchange pinning event is the first time he has been officially honored in the 50 years following Vietnam. “I’m quite privileged to be here,” he said. “It’s kind of nice to be honored for a change.”

In Washington, D.C., Exchange Director/CEO Tom Shull, a West Point graduate who began his Army service during the Vietnam era, received a pin on behalf of the Exchange during a ceremony at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration is a program administered by the Office of the Secretary of Defense to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. The U.S. began commemoration of the Vietnam War’s 50th anniversary in 2012 and will continue through Veterans Day 2025. The Exchange is a 50th Anniversary Vietnam War Commemorative Partner, planning and conducting events and activities that recognize Vietnam Veterans and their families for service, valor and sacrifice in conjunction with the Commemoration.