June 13, 2018 02:54 PM
The Minneapolis Veterans Home is honoring those who served the Vietnam War, including those who didn't return home.
A community room at one of the new buildings was dedicated to Vietnam veteran Wallace "Skip" Schmidt Wednesday.
His four sisters and son sat in the front row during the ceremony.
“Skip would be so proud," said one of his sisters. "He would have no clue that these wonderful things are happening for him."
The Department of Veterans Affairs said it was only right Schmidt was honored where he grew up in South Minneapolis.
He joined the Marines when he was 17 as a member of the Twins Platoon. It was a group of men that enlisted between innings at a Twins' game.
“They were in the worst battles in Vietnam in 1968 - in the Tet Offensive, which was the peak of the war,” said Diane Finnemann, one of his other sisters.
“He fought until the gun was literally shot out of his hand.”
Schmidt was awarded a Purple Heart and Silver Star for his leadership and bravery. A plaque outside the community room shares the story of his service.
He carried wounded platoon members to safety during an ambush, then returned to fight alongside other Marines.
He was one of two members of his platoon who survived the attack. His family said he was fulfilling a promise made to a photographer who died in his arms during the attack.
But he died four years after returning from the war.
“These guys were coming home and then not being accepted by their own friends, their own communities,” Finnemann said. “That added to the post-traumatic stress disorder. So this is a wonderful thing the veterans have pushed for.”
Schmidt’s family wrote a letter, which was on display at the dedication.
"Those who stepped forward to fulfill their duty by serving our country never received the celebration or respect they deserved…today we want to honor you,” read part of the letter.
In addition, the Department of Veterans Affairs recognized the dozens of Vietnam veterans who attended the ceremony.
“We want to makes sure that all veterans, those who didn't come home, or who didn't come home all the way, are honored,” said Douglas Hughes, the Deputy Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Veteran’s Affairs Healthcare.
Updated: June 13, 2018 02:54 PM
Created: June 13, 2018 12:29 PM
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