Honor for Vietnam vets

Forty-five years ago, James Bauer, of Williston, was in artillery with the 82nd Airborne during the Vietnam War. He was there from 1968 to 1969.

On Friday, Bauer and other Vietnam veterans, some with spouses, other relatives or friends, attended the second annual Vietnam Veterans and Community Celebration hosted by the Minot Vets Center.

March 29 is North Dakota Vietnam Veterans Day.

This year’s Minot event was held at the crossroads Baptist Church where people could go inside to visit and enjoy the food and drinks provided by donations. Last year’s event could be held outdoors in the parking lot near the Minot Vets Center but the weather did not permit an outdoor event.

Bauer, sitting on a bench in the entry of the church before the observance started, explained that a support group for combat veterans has been started in Williston. “It’s for veterans of all wars,” he said.

He said the support group includes the younger veterans. “They’re going through the same thing we did,” he said.

The support group, started by the Minot Vets Center, is for combat veterans of all military branches. For more information about the group, those interested can call the center in Minot at 852-0177.

During a brief program to open the Minot Vietnam veterans event Friday, Max Zurcher, a Vietnam veteran from Minot, was presented a certificate of appreciation from the Minot Vets Center for his help to the center.

Vietnam veteran Bob Haas, of Bismarck, urging veterans and others arriving at the event to sign a guestbook, was in the Navy from 1971 to 1977. During the Vietnam War he served on the USS Brooke, a guided missile destroyer escort.

Providing search and rescue, when pilots had to bail out, the USS Brooke would provide security for the pilots until helicopters could get to them to pick them up, he said.

After retiring from his job, Haas recently began working with the North Dakota National Guard’s Military Outreach Program.

Haas is glad there is a North Dakota Vietnam Veterans Day and observances like the one in Minot for the veterans.

“I think it’s a long time coming and I’m glad people are taking the time to recognize the veterans from that era,” he said.

To culminate the Minot event, at 4 p.m. balloons were released with “Taps.” Each balloon represented three Vietnam War casualties from North Dakota. There were 198 N.D. casualties in the Vietnam War.