In the late 1960s, after returning home to Maine following a tour of duty in Vietnam aboard the USS Boston, I, and many of my fellow veterans from that era, received a less-than-enthusiastic welcome home.

Since that time, I have rarely mentioned my Navy service unless among trusted friends and family, thinking all that time that the attitudes about Vietnam vets that prevailed in the late ’60s still were lurking, somewhere in the shadows.

Well, on June 14, Flag Day, the sun came out both literally and figuratively for me and my fellow Vietnam veterans.

Thanks to the efforts of Sheriff Randy Liberty, Col. Peter Ogden and a committed group of current service members, we received our welcome home as we walked from Winslow to Waterville across the venerable Two Cent Bridge, with the Kennebec River symbolizing the Pacific Ocean. Each of our names was announced to the crowd of several hundred welcomers, and we were applauded, hugged and cheered as we made our way through a welcome gauntlet of wellwishers — 50 years after the beginning of that awful war.

On behalf of myself and my fellow Vietnam veterans, I want to say a very sincere thank you to those who made our long-overdue welcome home a wonderful reality.

Gary Crocker

West Gardiner

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