PINEY FLATS, Tenn. - The Vietnam War was very unpopular at the time, and when troops started withdrawing on March 30 1973 most didn't get much of a homecoming. Now the state of Tennessee is giving Vietnam vets a "Welcome Home."
At just 22 years old Wayne Musick felt like he had the weight of the world on his shoulders, leading two platoons and running convoys all over Vietnam. "We were headquartered in Cam Ranh Bay, but I was only there one day out of every seven. The rest of the time, we were on the road taking supplies, ammunition, everything that soldiers needed," he recalled Thursday.
Musick says he spent exactly 365 days in Vietnam and there wasn't much fanfare when he finally came home, "I was wearing my uniform and the ribbons identifying as a Vietnam Veteran and I guess my recollection is I wasn't even spoken to, much less disrespected," he said.
But Governor Bill Haslam wants to give the men and women that fought during the Vietnam War a welcome home they deserve by making March 29 Vietnam Veterans Day. "I think most of us now feel like we're now no longer the forgotten warriors," said Musick.
From 1964 to 1975, the United States was battling overseas. Musick says when they returned from what some called an unwinnable war, some soldiers were spit on and even had garbage thrown at them. "The war became extremely unpopular. There were a lot of people that were my age and even older, that didn't want their children to be there. That were protesting the fact that we were there at all," he added.
While proud of the memories and the time he spent serving in Vietnam, Musick says it's a little bittersweet that Tennessee is just finally giving veterans a welcome home. "No matter what recognition is ever given, to those that returned and those that did not, there are things that will stick in our thoughts and we'll never get over it," he said.
Here are some more facts about the Vietnam War -- more than three million U.S. military troops were deployed. More than 58,000 American lives were lost, and more than 153,000 were wounded battling in Vietnam.
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