By Christophe Morel, USAG Benelux Public AffairsApril 8, 2019
CHIÈVRES, Belgium -- In observance of National Vietnam War Veterans Day, the Benelux community hosted a special observance March 29 at the Army and Air Force Exchange Service Mall on Chièvres Air Base, Belgium.
Paying homage and tribute to the veterans is one of the objectives of the observance which is held each year on March 29. The date signifies the anniversary of the withdrawal of combat and support units from South Vietnam in 1973.
Among the honored was retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Jeff Shriver who served for a total of 30 and a half years. According to Shriver, he will never forget one of the most painful chapters in history.
"I was not a hardline Soldier or a Marine going through hand-to-hand combat with the enemy [...]. But I do have a cousin who was over there," he said. "He was a trooper and died a few years ago. Very often, I think about people like him."
Fleming Outerbridge began his military career in 1969 and also served in the Vietnam War. He was a dial central office operator from August 1970 to July 1971. He then served as the 80th Army Support Group communication chief from February 1991 to November 1993 before he retired.
Vietnam War veterans' service was not formally recognized until recent years. In 2012, the Vietnam War Commemoration was authorized by the U.S. Congress, established under the Secretary of Defense and launched by President Barack Obama.
Five years later, President Donald Trump signed the Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act.
According to Outerbridge, saying thank you is sufficient when honoring a Vietnam War veteran.
"If you know that they are veterans, just tell them say thank you for your service, and shake their hand," he said.