- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 13, 2005

DAYTON, Ohio — When Mike Jackson came back from Vietnam in 1972, he was met by anti-war protesters.

Now, 30 years after the war ended, Mr. Jackson is helping organize an event to finally welcome Vietnam veterans home.

“You’ve got a whole segment of the population that went through the same thing I did,” said Mr. Jackson, who co-wrote a war memoir titled “Naked in Da Nang.”

“I just want somebody to say, ‘Thank you,’ somebody to say, ‘Welcome home.’ It would mean a lot.”

Mr. Jackson is spearheading Operation Welcome Home, a four-day celebration to be held Veterans Day weekend in Las Vegas. A similar event, Operation Homecoming USA, is set for June in Branson, Mo. A highlight of both will be a parade.

There haven’t been many ceremonies and parades over the years for the 7.9 million Vietnam veterans, although there was a homecoming parade 20 years ago in New York City that drew about 25,000 former troops.

Military historian J. Michael Wenger can’t recall any official homecoming parades during or shortly after the war.

“The military was just ready to have it done with,” said Mr. Wenger, of Raleigh, N.C., who also has written about the Vietnam War. “It would have been a publicity nightmare. It would have attracted protesters like a magnet.”

Mr. Jackson, 57, vividly recalls his June 25, 1972, return to the United States. Anti-war protesters were at the airport in San Francisco to harass him and his fellow soldiers as they caught flights home.

“We walked a gantlet through these guys on either side of us, putting signs in front of your face and screaming at you,” recalled Mr. Jackson, who flew 210 combat missions during the war. “This was our welcome home.”

Clinical psychologist Steven Herman said many Vietnam veterans resent the way they were treated when they came home. This year’s homecoming events could ease those feelings, he said.

“At the very least, it would provide some validation,” said Mr. Herman, who practices at the Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center in Indianapolis.

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