Although Mr. Jones did not speak at the ceremony, he later said he wished he had, so that he could relate the lessons he learned in combat.
“When I first shipped out, most of us didn’t think it was an honorable idea to die for your country, but then I would see a man fall on a grenade to save his friends, and that’s when I realized it is an honor to die for your comrades,” he said.
At the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall, another group of lesser-known veterans was honored. The service of women was the theme.
“Women carried the scars of Vietnam just as the men did,” said Diane Carlson Evans, founder of the Vietnam Women’s Memorial Foundation, who delivered the keynote speech at the observance. This year marks the 15th anniversary of the construction of the Vietnam Women’s Memorial.
Eight U.S. servicewomen, all of whom were nurses, were killed in action during the conflict.
Sgt. Maj. Cynthia Pritchette, who served two years as the Army command sergeant major for the Combined Forces Command - Afghanistan, also spoke.
“The women who served during Vietnam are courageous role models and patriots for those of us who serve today,” she said.