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Vietnam veterans honor 50th anniversary of Operation Homecoming in downtown New Bern

Ryan Shaffer / PRE News & Ideas
Chapter 886 of the Vietnam Veterans of America honored community veterans today at Union Point Park in downtown New Bern.

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the completion of Operation Homecoming, an agreement to withdraw American troops from Vietnam and the return of nearly 600 American prisoners of war. Events across the nation are being held today in honor of Vietnam Veterans and a close to the war.

At Union Point Park in downtown New Bern, Chapter 886 of the Vietnam Veterans of American hosted panel discussions on Myths and Facts of the war and displayed a 13-foot map of Vietnam so veterans could show where they served.

Also on display was a OH-6A Loach Helicopter brought by the North Carolina Vietnam Helicopter Pilot Association. It served as a “light observation helicopter” intended to fly low and scout the area.

Cary Hancock served 3 years in the Army in Vietnam, east of Saigon. He was a door gunner who later learned a trade as a helicopter mechanic and electrician.

“When I got out of school at 17, I didn’t have a trade and couldn’t get a job, so I decided to go into the military, get an education, and learn a trade,” he said.

Veterans could make audio recordings of their experiences on site. Copies of those recordings are being provided to the veteran, the Down East Vietnam Audio Archive, and the Library of Congress.

Ryan is an Arkansas native and podcast junkie. He was first introduced to public radio during an internship with his hometown NPR station, KUAF. Ryan is a graduate of Tufts University in Somerville, Mass., where he studied political science and led the Tufts Daily, the nation’s smallest independent daily college newspaper. In his spare time, Ryan likes to embroider, attend musicals, and spend time with his fiancée and two cats.