CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Saturday March 14th is National Vietnam Veterans Day and was dedicated by President Bush in 1990. It's a day set aside to remember all Vietnam Veterans across the country. But thanks to two local Vietnam Vets, those who died during the war from Nueces County will never be forgotten.
When the American soldiers returned home from World War II in 1945, they were greeted as heroes. It was a very different homecoming for many Vietnam Veterans. They came back to a country torn apart by debate over the War. For local Vietnam Veterans Lazaro Camarillo III and George Benitez it was important for them to honor their brothers who never made it home.
United States Army, SergeantLazaro O. Camarillo III says, "The monument was built for one purpose, to remember our 110 boys. We call them boys because when they went the went as a boy but died as a man."
All 110 soldiers were from Nueces County. But raising the $10,000 needed to build the monument wasn't easy. The men didn't receive the support they were expecting from local officials and area businesses. It took the men almost 19 months to raise the money.
George A. Benitez, United States Marine Corp, Lance Corporal George A. Benitez says, "We went around asking for donations they would goad us to get into a fight or goad us to say something wrong and we didn't want to disrespect the monument at all."
Benitez has lived in Corpus Christi his entire life and went to school with many of the servicemen listed on the monument. It has sat at Sherril Veterans Memorial Park for 33-years and will continue to sit as a reminder for years to come.
According to Benitez, "I just didn't think anyone should forget where they were from and the fact that they died over there."
There are four men still Missing In Action. Dog tags were made for all 110 men and serve as reminder of those lost. The United Vietnam Veterans of Texas have been holding Saturdays ceremony since 2003. And as they honor their fallen brothers in arms they also make sure future veterans are treated with the respect they deserve.
According to Camarillo, "We the Vietnam Vets are going to make sure and continue that all our young and women coming back will not be treated like they treated us.
The remembrance ceremony will be held Saturday at Sherril Veterans Memorial Park at 10:00am. Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales will be this years keynote speaker.