Nearly 160 Vietnam War Era Veterans Honored at Chalfont Ceremony
11/15/2016
Two of the guests at the Vietnam War Era Veterans Commemoration and Recognition Event Nov. 10 at Byers Choice in Chalfont included keynote speaker David Christian (far left), a decorated Vietnam veteran, and Gunnery Sgt. Luke Silwinski (center), with Operation Ward 57 Honor and Courage Program. The program was hosted by Reps. Bernie O’Neill and Katharine Watson and Sen. Charles McIlhinney.
CHALFONT – Nearly 160 veterans of the Vietnam War era were honored Nov. 10 at a special ceremony hosted by Sen. Charles McIlhinney (R-Bucks/10th) and Reps. Katharine Watson (R-Bucks/144th) and Bernie O’Neill (R-Bucks/29th) at Byers Choice in Chalfont. The ceremony was held in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the start of the war.

The veterans who were honored served on active duty in the United States Armed Forces at any time during the period of Nov. 1, 1955, to May 15, 1975, regardless of station location. They included both enlisted personnel and officers from all five branches of the armed forces, and live in the 10th Senatorial District who are also part of the 29th and 144th Legislative Districts. They received commemorative pins from the U.S. Department of Defense, certificates and embroidered stars from retired U.S. flags.

“The heroes who served during Vietnam faced incredible dangers, and in many cases, they were not given the respect they deserved following their service,” McIlhinney said. “I am hopeful that these events will serve as a reminder that their efforts are deeply appreciated.”

“The veterans we honored are my generation, and I remember so many of my high school and college classmates being called to serve,” said Watson. “I was so proud of them then, and I continue to be proud of them five decades later. These valiant heroes did so much to protect our own democracy and freedoms that I’m personally forever grateful to them, and this ceremony was one small way to let them know how very proud we are of them.”

The ceremony included a patriotic welcome from the local fire company and American Legion riders who escorted many of the veterans to the event site, and a greeting by the Liberty Young Marines, which includes youth from ages 8 to 18. Other participants included Chalfont VFW Chaplain Larry Scott, also a Vietnam War veteran, and Brenda Hecklin from A Hero’s Welcome, a local organization that ensures these heroes receive a proper welcome and appreciation.

“We had nearly 160 Vietnam veterans who came out to our event to receive this long-overdue recognition of their service and I am pleased to have had the opportunity to honor them. It was humbling to speak with our local veterans about their individual experiences and their lives after they returned to the United States,” O’Neill said. “Although it has been more than 40 years since the end of the war in Vietnam, we wanted to make sure that these brave men and women were properly thanked. We should all be immensely proud of our veterans and the personal sacrifices they have made to serve our country.”

Musical selections were presented by Central Bucks South Chorus and the Veterans Association of Military Musicians, and a citation was presented to Gunnery Sgt. Luke Silwinski, with Operation Ward 57 Honor and Courage Program. Silwinski is a youth motivational speaker who has received accolades for his work in helping support warriors with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and traumatic brain injury.

Keynote speaker was David A. Christian of Levittown, a highly decorated U.S. Army officer who served during the Vietnam War, among his many accomplishments. During his address, he spoke to veterans about their sacrifices and told them that their service allowed the United States to successfully prevent the spread of communism and that they should be considered victors for helping to start to bring about an end to the Cold War.

A video of the entire ceremony will be made available at KathyWatson144.com in the near future.

Representative Katharine Watson
144th District
Representative Bernie O’Neill
29thDistrict
Senator Charles McIlhinney
10th District
Media Contact: Jennifer Keaton or Abbey Haslam, 717.787.3993