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Feb Florida Events 2018

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Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans & Dogs

By Deborah Speicher


On Saturday, March 25, 2017, Vietnam era veterans and their war dogs were given the “welcome home” they deserve at Veterans Memorial Park in Tampa. Several veterans came out to give some truly heartfelt speeches and made us realize that it really stirred up old memories which many wanted to forget. One such speaker was Colonel Ron Rook (Ret. USMC). Colonel Rook spoke about how most of the men in his regiment were lost on a mission and also about coming home. Coming back to the United States during the Vietnam War was just about as dangerous, as protesters had started shooting returning soldiers. Colonel Rook had to wear civilian clothing and could have no trace of military clothing or paraphernalia with him when he came back to the States during the war.

The other unsung heroes of that era were the war dogs. Dogs trained and taken to Vietnam were then either left in Vietnam or euthanized. This was so unfair for those loyal canines who served and saved many lives. Barbara Snow from the US War Dogs Association Southern Chapter 2 spoke about the history of war dogs and how dogs can now properly retire from service.

This was a great ceremony which included all Vietnam era veterans receiving a pin to commemorate their service, POW/MIA table ceremony and The Last Patrol. The Last Patrol was created by the Suncoast Vietnam Veterans who reenact the last days of the Vietnam War utilizing a K-9 dog, smoke and music from that era.

At the conclusion, all attendees were treated to free food and dessert courtesy of VFW Post 8108 Riverview Ladies and Men’s Auxiliaries. FYI – Veterans Memorial Park is free and open to the public. In addition to various park displays, there is the Rear Admiral LeRoy Collins Jr. Veterans Museum.

The event was well done and powerful. Welcome home all!


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