RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Thursday marks 45 years since the last American ground troops left Vietnam after almost 10 years of conflict. The final withdrawal came two months after the signing of the Vietnam Peace Treaty.
More than two million U.S. troops served in South Vietnam during that decade. Many call them America's forgotten heroes.
On National Vietnam Veterans Day, Governor Northam wasn't about to let this day pass without recognizing the more than 200,000 Vietnam veterans in
Virginia and thanking them for their service.
One by one, the governor thanked the dozens of Vietnam veterans who turned out for this special day at the Virginia War Memorial - men like Sgt. Charles Pender, who served two tours of duty in Vietnam and came home with wounds that still bother him, to this day.
"At nighttime, Charlie did his thing - and I got a couple of wounds over there that I brought back home, but I'm here," said Pender.
This event is more than just a thank you. The Virginia Department of Veterans Affairs have pooled efforts with other agencies to direct Vietnam veterans to places where they can find housing, jobs and access to medical care. Vets like Pender are grateful.
"It's good, because a lot of the guys in 'nam were not appreciated then," said Pender.
According to the Virginia Military Database, 1,490 Virginians were killed in the Vietnam conflict.
Copyright 2018 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.