The Vietnam War was a divisive one. But what is unquestionable is the human heart of those in military service. Retired Navy Master Chief (TMCM SS) Patrick J. Moore is one of those men. He joined the U.S. Navy in 1959 and served for 30 years. At the time of the Vietnam War, he was an E-6 torpedo man aboard the U.S.S. Bang.
“It’s hard on a submarine, and you go to sea for three or four months. But I had the best camaraderie there has been with the crews on submarines. I had the best,” he said.
Reflections like these are necessary to hear and important in understanding the veteran point of view. For the upcoming fifth annual Heroes Homecoming, events will take place throughout Cumberland County from Nov. 1 to Nov. 12. Heroes Homecoming honors the sacrifices of all military veterans, but each year it turns its focus to a specific conflict in our nation’s history. This year, Vietnam War veterans are the honorees.
According to John Meroski, president/CEO of the Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, Vietnam veterans were chosen as honorees once again because “we can’t thank them enough.”
Here is the schedule of events:
Saturday, Nov. 4
The annual Fayetteville Veterans Day Parade will start at 10 a.m. It will take place downtown on Hay Street, with Cumberland County students and Vietnam veterans in attendance.
At 2 p.m., the Museum of the Cape Fear is hosting “A Soldier’s Heart: Understanding Vietnam Veterans’ Experiences through Oral History,” led by Dr. Cyndi Briggs. Her discussion will focus on stories she collected from Vietnam veterans over the years.
Sunday, Nov. 5
From 3 to 4:30 p.m. at the Hope Mills Veterans Memorial, a memorial ceremony and flag display will take place to honor Vietnam veterans. Retired Lt. Col. Walt Brinker, a Vietnam veteran, will be a guest speaker.
Monday, Nov. 6
At the Hope Mills Lake at 5 p.m., there will be a veteran’s bench dedication.
Tuesday, Nov. 7
From 1 to 4 p.m., the Museum of the Cape Fear will host a meet-and-greet with Vietnam veterans. Lt. Col. Walt Brinker will lead a presentation on his experience with PTSD and what other veterans can do to deal with their trauma.
Wednesday, Nov. 8
Starting at 4 p.m., Millstone 14 will present a military-themed movie night free of charge for veterans and their families. Call (910) 354-2124 for details.
Thursday, Nov. 9
From Thursday to Sunday, Nov. 12, the Airborne and Special Operations Museum will host the traveling replica of the Washington ,D.C., Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Also known as The Moving Wall, it lists the names of all who perished during the Vietnam War.
ASOM will honor Gold Star Families in a Vietnam Veteran pinning ceremony at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 9.
Also at 6:30 p.m., a Yellow Ribbon Tribute dinner will be hosted at the Spring Lake Recreation and Parks Building honoring Vietnam veterans’ families.
Friday, Nov. 10
U.S. Armed Forces veterans and their families will be honored at the Eastover Community Center. There will be refreshments and speakers, starting at 7 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 11
ASOM will show “On the Air: A Tribute to Bob Hope and America’s Heroes” and “Hello Vietnam: A Tribute to Bob Hope and America’s Heroes.” Showings will take place at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Sponsored by the Freedom Biker Church and Rolling Thunder, the first Heroes Homecoming Motorcycle Rally takes place from noon to 8 p.m. It will start at Fort Bragg Harley-Davidson and make its way to The Moving Wall dedication ceremony at ASOM before ending at Festival Park. There will be food trucks, tattoo and beard contests, speakers, bands – and a VIP tent for all Vietnam veterans.
ASOM’s The Moving Wall dedication takes place at 1 p.m. on the parade field. It will feature speakers such as Ray Scrump, who is a former prisoner of war, and Jim Hollister of Rolling Thunder.
Sunday, Nov. 12
From 1 to 3 p.m., ASOM will host a discussion and book signing with Mark Bowden. Bowden is best known for “Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War.” He will discuss his latest book, “Hue 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam.”
Several other events will take place throughout the entirety of Heroes Homecoming. This includes exhibits at both the Hope Mills and Cumberland County Public Libraries, a Vietnam War display at the Visitors Center at the North Carolina Veterans Park, and an exhibit called “Hugh’s Crate” at Museum of the Cape Fear. According to Meroski, FACVB has also set forth a Missing Man Table Initiative, with more than 200 businesses and organizations pledged to participate. The Missing Man Tables will honor those missing in action or who were prisoners of war during the Vietnam War.
“When I say Heroes Homecoming, brought to you by the communities of Cumberland County, it really is,” said Meroski. “It goes to show when you have an overarching, pure, good deed, people are going to rally around it.”
All Heroes Homecoming events are free and open to the public. Visit www.heroeshomecoming.com to learn more.