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National Briefing / Kentucky

Reenacting a homecoming

August 17, 2009|Times Wire Reports

Tears filled the eyes of some Vietnam veterans as they were greeted with cheers from their family and friends in a reenactment of their original homecoming, when they were often met with angry demonstrators and harsh headlines.

The ceremony at Ft. Campbell was a first for the 101st Airborne Division and the Army, said Maj. Patrick Seiber, an Army spokesman based there.

"Our hope is that other units and other posts will follow our lead in having this type of ceremony," he said.

Mickey Leighton, a 72-year-old Army veteran from Naples, Fla., said listening to the applause and praise was very emotional.

Leighton, who started his military career at Ft. Campbell in 1956, served two tours in Vietnam that included the Tet Offensive.

He returned in 1972 amid angry antiwar protests that often placed blame on the individual soldiers.

"We were treated very shabbily," he said. "In some cases they would throw eggs at us, they would throw empty beer bottles at us and they would call us baby-killers."

The Ft. Campbell welcome, he said, "is very touching."

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