AFA Seidel Chapter Says ‘Thank You’ to Vietnam Vets

April 13, 2023

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Paris Peace Accords and the end of US participation in the Vietnam War. In recognition of the contributions of all the veterans who served on active duty during the war years, on March 21 the AFA Seidel Chapter led a multi-service group of Dallas-area veterans organizations to stage a commemoration ceremony at the Frontiers of Flight Museum. The message to these veterans: “Thanks for Your Service and Welcome Home!”

Approximately 450 Vietnam-era veterans and family members attended the event. During the pre-event reception, veterans were individually presented with the commemorative Vietnam Veteran Lapel Pin and several spouses of deceased veterans received the Surviving Spouse pin. 

The keynote speaker was Congressman Keith Self, who was recently elected to the TX 3rd District. The seat was previously held for 29 years by former POW Congressman (and retired USAF Colonel) Sam Johnson, who passed away in 2020.

“It is our obligation to remember the courage of those at Hue and Khe Sanh, at Tan Son Nhut and Saigon, from Hamburger Hill to the B-52 missions in Operation Linebacker and the Wild Weasel anti-SAM missions,” Self said in his remarks. “Future generations deserve to know that those we honor today, won every major battle they fought.”

A special highlight of the ceremony was the presentation of POW pins and certificates to Col. Ken Cordier, USAF (Ret.) and Col. Elmo Baker, USAF (Ret.), who were accompanied by their spouses Barbie and Honey. Cordier and Baker both spent six years as POWs, and each received the Silver Star for bravery. 

Other speakers included Capt. Allen Clark, USAF (Ret.), recipient of the Silver Star for bravery in a battle in which he lost both legs; and Natan Ton-that, who emigrated to the US at the age of 11 and later served in the Peace Corps and the US Army. Clark recalled the combat medics who saved his live after he was wounded and his journey “from darkness to light” during his recovery. Comparing the United States with countries with royal families, Clark said, “You veterans here in this museum today, who served your country, are the nobility of the United States.”

Lieutenant Ton-that reminded the veterans that “there are hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese-Americans who are here in America because of you. You fought for us and came back to a country that did not appreciate your service. Today you should be proud that you served a noble cause.”

The ceremony concluded with the symbolic presentation of the Veterans Lapel Pins to the members of the honor guard from American Legion Harding-Blaine Post 321, all of whom served in Vietnam.  

A special feature of the program was the display of eighteen portraits of Vietnam veterans with connections to Texas, produced by artist and author and Seidel Chapter member Colin Kimball.  The portraits will remain in display at the Frontiers of Flight Museum as a reminder to the thousands of museum visitors that of the contributions of the brave men and women who served their country in the Vietnam War.