JEROME, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - Many veterans gathered at the Veteran Memorial Park in Jerome for an appreciation barbecue Saturday afternoon.
Put on through the Vietnam commemorative partnership program in its third year, Sen. Mike Crapo made an appearance as a keynote speaker and met with the community prior to munching on meals.
This was also a way for local vets to get together and share their war stories like Greg Will who goes to events like this as much as he can. Will served in the Vietnam War for a year and a half in Khe Sanh.
"He was a Marine and so he went and they served on bases and serving back and forth, so it was a hard time for him," his wife Midgy Will said. "It was hard for him to recoup with that because of what was going on through the war."
"I know they tried to over run us a couple times and if it wasn’t for the choppers coming in, we would’ve been gone," recalled Greg.
The rough patch followed him back home.
"When I cam back from Vietnam, people at the airport were screaming, calling me names, and stuff. I didn't understand what was going on until (two weeks after) I got back," Greg continued. "(When I) realized what was going on, I thought it was so wrong. I mean, they send us over to fight a war and when we come home, it was different. It was a sad state of affairs during that time."
People may not have understood the situation back then, but Greg believes more people do now.
"We did what we had to do, the government sent us, and I'm proud to have served," Will said.
Even to this day, other veterans say they now receive better recognition for serving the country.
"We walk down the street and people say 'thank you for your service' when you're wearing the hat whether it's Vietnam or whatever," said Gib Belasquez of the Jerome Commemorative Committee.
Organizers told KMVT this was their biggest turnout yet. Although this is the last required event on the committee's contract, they hope to put more events like this in the future.