Fort McCoy News November 22, 2013

Commissary unfurls Vietnam War anniversary flag

BY ROB SCHUETTE
Public Affairs Staff

A 50th anniversary Vietnam War Commemorative Flag was unfurled at the Fort McCoy Commissary Nov. 8 by Fort McCoy Garrison Commander Col. Steven W. Nott and Robert Moreno, a Commissary employee who served in the Vietnam War.

Photo 1 for Vietnam flag article
Robert Moreno, a Commissary employee and Vietnam veteran, and Garrison Commander Col. Steven W. Nott (right) unveil a 50th anniversary Vietnam War Commemorative Flag at the Fort McCoy Commissary.
Photo by Rob Schuette

The flag, displayed near the Commissary entrance for all authorized Commissary patrons to view, signifies the Commissary is a designated Vietnam War commemorative partner.

The Department of Defense created the flag in honor of all the country's Vietnam veterans and their Family members. Fort McCoy Commissary Store Director Steve Brown served as emcee of the event.

Brown said he and Moreno were the last of the original Commissary employees who began working at the Commissary when it opened in 1991 in the old warehouse area in World War II-era wood buildings. The Commissary moved to a new building, its present location, in 2007.

Moreno recalled how he was drafted during the Vietnam War, but preferred to enlist during the 1960s. He served in the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, which had more than 22,000 personnel, and lost 130 Soldiers during its tour in Vietnam.

"Vietnam was a long, drawn-out conflict, and when we got out it was not a pretty sight," Moreno said. "… Everyone had more than 1,000 stories to tell, but the problem was who to tell them to because no one (who wasn't there) had an idea of what it was like."

A letter Moreno read from "Thunder Run," a magazine published quarterly to keep those who served in the 11th and their Family members up-to-date, contained a description of what it was like for Vietnam veterans returning to the U.S.

Photo 2 for Vietnam flag article
Steve Brown (right), Fort McCoy Commissary store director, addresses
the audience at the Commissary's ceremony to honor the unveiling
of a 50th anniversary Vietnam War Commemorative Flag.

Photo by Michael Waddell

"There was no cheering, no clapping, no respect or no thank yous for anyone," Moreno read. "… When we came home a lot of people shed their uniforms. We did what we did, it was our duty, our honor and our pride to do it for the country. We were doing our job."

Although they didn't get a proper welcome back, Moreno said it is the Vietnam veterans who often are in the forefront of helping to welcome back those Soldiers deployed today to support missions in Afghanistan or Iraq. The flag will help make up to the Vietnam veterans what they missed when they returned home. "This flag brings a lot of spirit and pride to us," Moreno said.

The 11th holds a yearly reunion in a different part of the country each year to honor the veterans and bring them and their Families together. Moreno said for those who have lost their veterans they can see old photos of the men serving or talk to some of the veterans who served with them.

Brown noted the color gold used on the flag signifies the 50th, or golden, anniversary of the war. A representation of the Vietnam Service Medal (ribbon) is depicted below the inner rings. Red, white and blue inner rings represent the U.S. flag and recognize all Americans, both military and civilian, who served or contributed to the Vietnam War effort.

The words "A Grateful Nation Thanks and Honors You" are at the bottom of the design.

The full description of the meaning of the flag is available in written format at the Commissary, building 1537, or at the website www.vietnamwar50th.com/about/about_the_flag.

Commemorative 50th anniversary buttons also were distributed by the Commissary and the Fort McCoy Public Affairs Office at the event. Limited quantities are available at the Commissary.

The Public Affairs commemorative buttons are available at the Commemorative Area, building 902, for group tours or when it's open to the public, such as for the Armed Forces Day Open House, scheduled for Saturday, May 17. For more information about the buttons, call the Public Affairs Office at 608-388-2407.

For more information about the Fort McCoy Commissary, call 608-388-3542 or visit the website www.commissaries.com.