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Politics

Rep. Johnson honors Vietnam veterans in Sturgis

Dusty Vietnam Veteran
Lee Strubinger
/
SDPB
Representative Dusty Johnson poses for a photo with Vietnam veteran John Pyle of Sturgis.

Vietnam veterans from Sturgis are receiving commemorative pins as part of a nationwide effort by Congress to honor their service.

The Vietnam Veterans Commemorative Pinning Ceremony is meant to make amends for how those veterans were treated upon their return home. Five living veterans were honored Monday, and an additional veteran was honored posthumously.

John Pyle of Sturgis served in the Navy from 1965 to 1969.

Pyle said he's thankful that Congressman Dusty Johnson is conducting the ceremonies.

"I personally have gotten a little bit more involved with stuff because here about 10 years ago or so people started warming up," Pyle said. "When I first came in they didn't want you in the VFW or the American Legion or anything else. Now they do. I'm very happy that this is happening."

vietnam pin.jpg
Lee Strubinger
/
SDPB
Pins presented during Vietnam Veterans Commemorative Pinning Ceremony.

Since the program started, Representative Dusty Johnson has recognized more than 300 Vietnam veterans.

"For the terrible welcome home they got in the '60s and '70s," Johnson said. "Whether they served overseas or in America the whole time, none of them were thanked appropriately for their service. I think you can tell by the stories that these ladies and gentlemen tell how much disappointment and, frankly, how much anger they still have over the experiences they had in coming home. This is an opportunity for us to do right by them."

Johnson said it's one of the most rewarding things he does. He said it also gives him a chance to hear about what's happening to veterans, which can lead to policy changes.