Kentucky National Guard joins up to remember 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War

Story by David Altom, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

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The Kentucky Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Frankfort is one of a kind. The shadow of the sundial falls on the name of a fallen Kentucky military service member on the anniversary of their death. The memorial lists 1,103 names on its roster. (Photo by David Altom, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs)

Click here for more on the Kentucky Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

2-138 in Vietnam

Smoke belches from tube of a 155mm howitzer as two crewmen outside the self-propelled weapon protect their ears from the mighty blast. The Kentucky Army National Guard’s of 2nd Battalion 138th Field Artillery reinforced fires of 101st Airborne Division against distant enemy in northern area of South Vietnam. (U.S. Army photograph)

FRANKFORT, Ky. — The Kentucky National Guard is now an official Department of Defense partner in commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.

On April 19, 1968, the 2d Battalion, 138th Field Artillery with units in Louisville, Bardstown, Elizabethtown and Carrollton, Kentucky were ordered to active duty by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Among 24,500 men ordered to active duty in 88 units across the United States were 570 Kentucky Guardsmen and 750 Kentucky Air Guardsmen.  From hilltop positions such as Fire Base Bastogne, Tomahawk Hill and Hamburger Hill the Kentucky gunners supported troops of the 101st Airborne Division, a regular army unit normally based at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. The Battalion’s C Battery lost nine men killed and thirty-two wounded when North Vietnamese troops overran Fire Base Tomahawk on June 19, 1969.

Click here for the full story on the Kentucky National Guard’s mission during the Vietnam War.

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A Soldier from Charlie Battery, 2nd Battalion 138th Field Artillery and the unit insignia, complete with a Kentucky cardinal. (Kentucky National Guard file photo)

In recognition of Kentucky’s participation in the Vietnam War and honor those who served and those who fell, state officials met with representatives from the Department of Defense to sign on as a commemorative partner.  Commemorative Partners are requested to commit to conducting two events in 2015, 2016, and 2017. Communities across the nation already honor veterans at events, such as Memorial Day ceremonies and Veterans Day parades. At these events, partners can specifically highlight those who served during the Vietnam War.

Following a tour of the Kentucky Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Frankfort, Department of Defense representative Yvonne Schilz presented Kentucky Air Guard Chief of Staff Col. Steve Bullard with a certificate making the Kentucky National Guard a partner in commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.

Click here for more on the Department of Defense 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War Commemorative Partnership Program.

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Following a tour of the Kentucky Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Frankfort, Department of Defense representative Yvonne Schilz presented Col. Steve Bullard with a certificate making the Kentucky National Guard a partner in commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. Joining in on the presentation were Sandra O’Dea, Department of Defense and Col. (retired) Jerry Cecil, KVVM board member. (Photo by David Altom, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs)

“The Kentucky Vietnam Veterans Memorial is a sacred place and truly honors the Commonwealth’s Vietnam veterans,” said Schilz. “We look forward to working with the Kentucky Guard in the future on this very important project.”

“The Kentucky National Guard’s mission in Vietnam is legendary,” said Bullard.  “There is hardly anyone in the veterans community who isn’t familiar with the story of the boys of Bardstown.  We need to keep that memory alive, not just for their generation, but for their children and their children’s children.  Being a partner in this commemoration is key to preserving the history of what happened fifty years ago.”

Click here for more info on Kentucky’s 50th Anniversary project.

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