NEW CUMBERLAND, Pa. - Hundreds of Vietnam War veterans from across the country have gathered in central Pennsylvania this week to commemorate the 50th anniversary of their regiment's deployment to Vietnam.
The 1st Battalion 40th Field Artillery regiment, based out of Fort Sill, Oklahoma, has annual reunions that are typically held across the country, and this year, it was here. The regiment was deployed to Vietnam from 1966 to 1969.
Having the opportunity to see each other and catch up is special for these men, especially Sergeant Major Thurman Cousins (Ret.), who trained the men as draftees in the 1960s.
"This was the best group of troops the best people that I ever worked with in my life," he said. "They were drafted for 2 years, their mind was made up to do the best they could, get their time in and get out and do what they wanted to."
The veterans have spent the last few days visiting local historic sites like Gettysburg and the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C.
"Our legacy remains proud," Maj. Robert Callender (Ret.) said. "We're American soldiers, we fought for our country, we'd do it again and we have no shame about anything."
Beyond catching up with people they have not seen in decades in some cases, the veterans and their families have had the opportunity to help each other heal the scars from combat.
"And with meeting with each other we have a chance to talk about it, discuss it, and using each other for a sound board, but also it's the support of brothers in arms," Ken Seymour, a veteran from Michigan, said.
"A lot of these people here need healing and I think this kind of fellowship promotes the healing that we're looking for," Callender said. "We can't do it with meds; we can do it with each other and when we go home we know that we have friends."