Last Wednesday Representative Derek Kilmer invited West End veterans of the Vietnam War to participate in a pinning ceremony as part of the 50th Anniversary Commemoration of the Vietnam War.
The ceremony was held at Peninsula College-Forks. Also participating were Forks Mayor Tim Fletcher, and Clallam County Commissioners Randy Johnson and Bill Peach, with the assistance of the American Legion Post 106 and the Forks VFW Post 9106
The pinning program was established by the Secretary of Defense after it received a 2007 directive from Congress to establish an official commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War. Kilmer is one of 10,000 commemorative partners nationwide who have volunteered to host veteran pinning events.
In addition to the pin authorized for veterans who served, the Commemoration also authorized lapel pins for former and living American Military POWs, the immediate family members of American military personnel listed as missing and unaccounted for from the Vietnam War, the immediate family members for any veteran listed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. and surviving spouses of deceased Vietnam Veterans.
In Forks just under 100 pins were given out; many to veterans that came in person, some for those that were unable to be there and a few for surviving family members and widows of Vietnam veterans.
Donna Moulton was one of those widows who stepped forward to accept a pin on behalf of her late husband Doug Moulton. Doug passed away this past April. Donna broke down several times as she prepared to go forward to receive Doug’s pin and again after the ceremony as she spoke about her late husband and his distinguished service to our country.
During his time in the Army Doug received, among other honors, the Vietnam Service Medal, Air Medal w/22nd Oak Leaf Cluster and “V” Device, the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal w/60 Device, the Purple Heart, the Distinguished Flying Cross, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry w/Gold Star. He was honorably discharged in June of 1967.
Donna shared that some of Doug’s war experiences were not known to her until after he had passed. Like many soldiers, especially those who served in Vietnam, Doug never shared what he had been through.
In addition to pulling a live shell from a helicopter that was in flight, Doug had taken part in The Battle of la Drang which took place Nov. 14-16, 1965. Doug’s division laid down fire and helped to rescue soldiers trapped in a valley, getting most of them to safety after they had been ambushed. The movie “We Were Soldiers” was based on this battle.
Donna shared that when Doug returned home from the war he had been spit on and the first time he ever was thanked for his service was in 2014. “I wish Doug could have been here today, Donna said, “He would have loved this.”