PARKERSBURG - U.S. Tours has been awarded Partner Status from the "50th Commemoration of the Vietnam War" office. The company's Tennessee office is producing the inaugural event in a 13-year celebration planned by the Department of Defense to honor the service of American soldiers in Vietnam.
The commemoration was announced on Memorial Day in 2012 at Washington's Vietnam Wall. President Barack Obama created the commemoration committee and said, "Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another."
Commemorative Partners work to bring attention to the service and sacrifice of Vietnam veterans, and U.S. Tours opens this period of honor with the "Welcome Home Vietnam" parade in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., on April 16. This event has hundreds of Vietnam veterans marching behind a nine-flag Color Guard.
Bob Cline, president of U.S. Tours, receives a Commemoration Certificate from Gen. Claude Kicklighter, retired, at a ceremony in New York City on March 23.
There are troop transport trucks by the Tennessee National Guard, Huey gunships on the ground and in the air, restored military Jeeps and gun trucks, personally owned vehicles decorated in honor of these Vietnam veterans, as well as patriotic floats from theaters and attractions throughout the Smoky Mountains.
According to Bob Cline, president of U.S. Tours, "This is the parade they never got." When American troops returned home in the 1960s and 1970s these men and women averaging 19 years of age were shunned, spit on and disrespected. They had served America honorably, participated in jungle war in Southeast Asia, and were then welcomed home with indifference and hostility.
"Many Americans, our own government included, turned their backs on these soldiers. For many of the attending Vietnam veterans, this parade is the first thanks they've received in the 40-50 years since their service ended - and it is our honor to salute them," Cline said.