By Candateshia PaffordJune 17, 2016
CAMP ZAMA, Japan (June 17, 2016) - The annual Vietnam Commemoration Ceremony was held June 15 at the Camp Zama Recreation Center with remarks from guest speaker, Lt. Col. (Retired) Robert E. Gordon.
Gordon, Vietnam Veteran, enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1966, and with 23 years and nine months of service, retired in July 1990.
Assigned to the Transportation Corps while station in Vietnam from June 1968 to July 1969, Gordon provided actual combat footage of his time served during his presentation.
Gordon's unit was responsible for providing supplies and equipment to other units and Soldiers.
"Those Soldiers needed the supplies we were taking to them- be it beans, be it bullets," said Gordon.
Running supplies on countless convoys, sometimes though hostile territories, Gordon said it was all an adventure.
"You never know what was going to be around the next corner," he said.
"My tour in Vietnam was nothing like you see in the movies, like 'Full-Metal Jacket' and 'Platoon'," said Gordon.
"My tour was more like an adventure- being an eternal optimist, I knew nothing bad was going to happen to me," said Gordon.
"Yet, some of the days were really long, and things got really scary," he said.
Gordon's unit encounter threats from small-arms gunfire and rocket propel grenades.
Although his time spent in Vietnam wasn't "all peaches... and cream and roses," said Gordon; however, his job gave him satisfaction and made him feel like he was really making a contribution.
During his opening remarks, Col. William B. Johnson, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Japan, read the poem, "Freedom is not Free," by Ashely Persyn.
"There is a price we pay for freedom, for it is not truly free; but has rather been paid for by the contributions of veterans, to buy our liberty...
"As their blood drains from their body and ran like a river through the grass. Over the years it's forgotten. War is a place in our pass...
"Do we all realize the importance veterans play, as they voluntarily serve American each and every day...?
"We should honor the veterans for they are a shield, protecting us from danger, keeping America healed...
"So, if we take a second to commemorate, you will instantly see, we owe veterans our gratitude, for they are the reason we are free."
Taking a look back 50 years, and remembering the Vietnam Conflict, Johnson said it is important to honor and thank those veterans.
"It's a blessing to have American heroes with a priceless wealth of knowledge and experience serving in our country," said Johnson.
"Furthermore, it's a wonderful service to us when these veterans embrace the opportunity to share their stories," he said.
Capt. David Mabey, assigned to U.S. Army Japan, said it's important to hold commemorations to recognize those who served.
"It's nice to be a veteran, to return and say thanks to those who have done the same- who have gone through the trials and tribulations that are simulated with war," said Mabey.
The ceremony concluded with the USAG Japan Command Group recognizing several local Vietnam Veterans with a coining ceremony, followed by the playing of "Taps" by the USARJ Band.