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Tioga County Honors Vets for National Vietnam War Veterans Day

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The Tioga County Veterans Service Agency honored local Vietnam veterans Thursday morning in Owego for National Vietnam War Veterans Day.

The “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day” ceremony started in front of the Tioga County Courthouse and then moved to the Owego VFW Post 1371 where the lives of those who were lost in the war were honored, and those still living were thanked for their service.

“They never got a formal welcoming home, so that’s what today’s about. To welcome them home.” - Bill Chandler, President of Vietnam Vets Chapter 480

In March of last year, President Trump designated March 29th as a national day to honor those who put their lives on the line for their country in Vietnam.

Dozens of veterans and their families attended the ceremony.

“They were a castigated population back in the 60’s and 70’s when they returned. It was a very unpopular war, and there were many movements against the war. And a lot of that was taken out on the veterans.”

Approximately 4,600 veterans live in Tioga County. Tom Holton Sr., Director of Veteran Services for Tioga County, says he’s honored to serve them.

“They put themselves in a position to potentially lose their life to provide the freedoms and the liberties that the rest of us now enjoy to this day.”

One of the veterans in attendance, Wayne Sibrava, served in the Air Force for ten years from 1974 to 1984.

Now, at 63, he’s the Pastor at Living Water Baptist Church in Owego.

“I felt as though it was another way to serve our country and just try to help people and be a friend.”

The retired tech sergeant is thankful Tioga County has so many services available for those still living with the wounds of war.

“It’s just nice to see that there’s a support structure around us if we have the need.”

Although it took many years for Vietnam vets to get the thanks they deserve, it wouldn’t change Pastor Sibrava’s decision to put on that uniform.

“I joined the military at my own volition, and I was willing to do whatever it took to help keep our country free and it was an honor and a blessing.”

The Tioga County Veterans Service Agency hopes to continue the event for many years.