top of page
  • Writer's pictureJami Barr

50 Years Later: Vietnam Remembrance Day & the Vietnam War Experience

Fifty years ago, the last American combat troops exited Vietnam. Today is Vietnam Remembrance Day and at Patriot’s Point there was a memorial service to honor those 58,000+ men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam. This ceremony was also to honor those men and women who served in Vietnam that are still among us. The service was held on the Vietnam War Experience grounds. When guests who had served in Vietnam arrived, they were asked if they wanted to be pinned with a Vietnam Veteran pin. I had the pleasure of pinning a few veterans myself and it was a great honor. Spouses were also presented with a special pin for their service to their military member during the war.

A Vietnam Veteran receiving his pin from volunteer and Vietnam Veteran John Tharp.

The Vietnam War Experience at Patriot’s Point is included in the general admission ticket and is the first thing you see before you make your way across the bridge to get to the Yorktown. The Vietnam War Experience has its own set of volunteers, many of which served in Vietnam. When you start to make your way to the bunker, the first thing you will notice is three stone slabs with names on them. Those markers obtain the names of the men and women from South Carolina who did not return from their duties in Vietnam. There are over 600 names listed on those stone markings. As you enter the bunker, you will be greeted with artifacts, posters, and displays of information pertaining to Vietnam, communism, and how the United States got involved with what was going on in Vietnam. Within the bunker there is also a small theater that shows a video of interviews with people who served in Vietnam. One of the biggest takeaways from that video is how the people were treated after they returned to America. The people who were in Vietnam had no idea of the response at home to the war until after they returned. It’s very emotional.

Executive Director Alison Hunt welcoming the Vietnam Veterans and their families to the ceremony.

After going through the bunker, you enter a mock setup of an American encampment like the ones set up in Vietnam. To your left in the water is Elaine. Elaine was a boat used in Vietnam and was recently refurbished and updated. The encampment has a mess hall, a medical facility, and aircraft for visitors to explore and experience. The most intriguing part of this experience are the sound effects. I always tell everyone to expect this part of the immersive experience because you will hear gun shots, missiles, bombings, and other day to day war sounds that took place in Vietnam.

Vietnam Veteran volunteers and Col. Myron Harrington honoring those who gave the ultimate sacrifice and those who still live among us.

Once you make your way through the encampment, you walk through a tunnel that leads to a mock setup of Khe Sanh. “The Battle of Khe Sanh began on January 21, 1968, when forces from the People’s Army of North Vietnam (PAVN) carried out a massive artillery bombardment on the U.S. Marine garrison at Khe Sanh, located in South Vietnam near the border with Laos. For the next 77 days, U.S. Marines and their South Vietnamese allies fought off an intense siege of the garrison, one of the longest and bloodiest battles of the Vietnam War.” ( editors 2019) This area includes a small hut style building that includes a video explaining how the United States Marine Corps and the South Vietnamese were under constant fire night and day. This area also provides an opportunity for guests to climb aboard a helicopter and see how much space was available for transporting troops.

The Vietnam War Experience does something that I believe no other part of Patriot’s Point offers and that is for the visitors to fully immerse themselves in an environment that was extremely unpleasant. While the Vietnam War itself holds great controversy the fact still remains that thousands of men and women answered the call to duty.

PFC. John Miller, my uncle

My uncle, John Miller, was one of those people and at 18 he went to Vietnam. He was there for 22 days before he was shot and killed by friendly fire. Although my grandmother never got the full details, I can only imagine the confusion and stress these troops were under and unfortunately, it resulted in my uncle losing his life. I never met my uncle John, but I have visited him at his resting place in the Gettysburg and have seen his name on the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C. The Vietnam War Experience will humble you and give a little insight to a major war that left a generation of people feeling unwanted and misunderstood.

Bibliography:, Editors. “Khe Sanh - Location, Vietnam War & Who Won - History.” Khe Sanh, June 10, 2019.

3 views0 comments
bottom of page