HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - This weekend held a special meaning for some Vietnam veterans. Those who served at the Tan Son Nhut airbase chose to hold their 2016 reunion in the Tennessee Valley. More than 140 veterans from all around the nation came to Huntsville to share their stories and reconnect with old friends.
"All of the veterans went through Tan Son Nhut somewhere between the years of 1959 and 1975," said Co-Director Kerry Nivens. Nivens is a Huntsville native, and said they planned a busy week to show everyone around.
"We visited Redstone Arsenal, we went down and we left a memorial bench, down at the Huntsville Military Museum," said Nivens.
Co-Director Joe Kricho said they always try to do some kind of dedication at these reunions, like benches or plaques, as a way of leaving their legacy.
"We're leaving our footprint behind. Hopefully somewhere in the future somebody will come across it and say, you know, what was this about?" said Kricho.
When asked why these reunions are so important for the vets, Kricho said it's the chance to connect.
"The biggest thing is camaraderie, you know it's just that you know once you've been associated with this lifestyle you just can't get it out of your system," he said.
Nivens echoes that sentiment, calling it a 'brotherhood'. He said Vietnam veterans didn't get the homecoming other war vets did, so this time is a chance for healing.
"We're just trying to find veterans and let them know that they're not alone, that they are welcome home, and in fact that's one of the greetings that we give each other is welcome home," said Nivens.
Welcome home, guys.
The reunion wrapped up Sunday morning. The Tan Son Nhut airbase was located right outside Saigon. The Tan Son Nhut Association is open to all of those who served at the base, regardless of military affiliation.