Wyoming veterans help escort traveling memorial
By CHILTON TIPPIN
June 29, 2013
LARAMIE, Wyo. – Carl Meloche still remembers his worst homecoming.
“I came back from Vietnam in December of ’68,” the Army Special Forces veteran said. “A bunch of us came in and got on the bus at Oakland. We drove through the gate, and there were a bunch of protesters out there, long-haired hippie people, peace signs and all of that.”
He said protesters, chanting and picketing, circled the bus and blocked its passage.
“The bus driver said, ‘We’re going to have to get the MP to clear the road,’” Meloche said.
The Green Berets on the bus had a better idea.
“We unloaded the bus,” Meloche said. “We walked in front and formed a V in front of the bus. And we moved those people, not physically, but mentally. They decided they didn’t want anything to do with the Green Beret, with the veterans who’d just come back from killing hostile enemies over there.”
Earlier this month, Meloche rode as the point man in the motorcade escorting the American Veterans Travelling Tribute into Cheyenne.
The memorial is a wall bearing the names of tens of thousands of veterans who’ve died fighting in every American war since World War II, and it includes every name of the more than 58,000 service members killed during the Vietnam War.
Meloche and fellow Vietnam veteran, Daniel R. Santistevan – both Laramie residents – said riding in the escort’s vanguard brought back memories of the war, faces of fallen friends and the latent fear, frustration and anguish associated with combat.
And both soldiers agreed: The ride was the greatest honor of their lives.
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