FORT DETRICK, Md. - The U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command and civic leaders in Fredrick, Maryland, commemorated the 50th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War during a recognition ceremony in downtown Frederick on March 27.
In celebration of National Vietnam War Veterans Day on March 29, the ceremony was designed to honor the service and sacrifice of nearly three million Vietnam War service members. According to local officials, more than 4,500 Vietnam Veterans call Fredrick home.
“To the Vietnam veterans here with us, please know that the military and the nation are grateful for your service and sacrifice,” said Brig. Gen. Anthony McQueen, commanding general of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command and Fort Detrick. “The Service Members of today and myself included owe you a debt of gratitude.”
Among those whom McQueen acknowledged was John Fer, a retired colonel with the U.S. Air Force. Fer is a Silver and Bronze Star Medal awardee and a former prisoner of war who was released in 1973 from North Vietnam.
“I’d like to close today by thanking those Vietnam veterans in our crowd who didn’t get the due respect they should’ve gotten when they returned from Southeast Asia,” said Fer. “You have my gratitude, you have the gratitude of every single surviving prisoner of war, and we will never forget your sacrifice.”
In addition to the contingent from Fort Detrick, local government leaders joined the ceremony for the purposes of paying their respects. Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner, County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins, County Council President M.C. Keegan-Ayer, and Frederick City Mayor Michael O’ Connor were among those in attendance. .
A proclamation reading which recognized March 29 as Vietnam Veterans Day for Fredrick concluded the ceremony with a benediction from Fort Detrick Chaplain Lt. Col. Craig Johnson and a presentation of colors.
“For decades, the Fort Detrick Installation has helped shape the local industry, education, and public health throughout the nation,” said McQueen. “Today, MRDC, along with other organizations on our campus, work tirelessly to contribute to our national defense and medical readiness while also creating solutions that care for our Soldiers, retirees, and veterans.”