Tim Gibson remembers the welcome he received upon returning from his service with a US Navy construction battalion in Vietnam.
“We were greeted by the audience yelling curses at us,” said Gibson, who now lives in Yakima.
But on Saturday, he said he finally received official recognition and gratitude for his service in Vietnam.
Gibson was one of 26 veterans, or their family members, who received a Vietnam War veteran pin from U.S. Representative Dan Newhouse at the Yakima Convention Center. The ceremony was part of the Newhouse Veterans Services Fair, where veterans could learn about the services available to them.
Newhouse, a Sunnyside Republican who has previously made several pin presentations, said it was an effort to rectify the mistreatment Vietnam veterans received upon returning home.
“It wasn’t the most popular war,” Newhouse said. “I was 13 in 1968 and I remember all the protests, but you saw it with your own eyes when you came back.”
Unlike WWII veterans who returned home for parades, Vietnam veterans were sometimes subject to the wrath of their fellow citizens who disagreed with the war and the way the US government was fighting it.
Newhouse said the pins were part of efforts to commemorate the war’s 50th anniversary. The commemoration began on May 28, 2012, by proclamation of President Barack Obama and will run until November 11, 2025.
The veterans each received a pin, certificate, and Newhouse Congressional Challenge Coin. Newhouse’s press secretary Amanda Fitzmorris said pins and certificates would be sent to five veterans who were unable to attend the ceremony.
Gibson said he was grateful to be honored for his service, but said it was also bittersweet as it brought back memories of his fellow sailors who were killed in the war.
Newhouse also received a pin from Alfie Alvarado, director of the State Department of Veterans Affairs, in recognition of his service to veterans.