Vietnam Veterans Speak Out

First Coast.TV was asked by several Veteran groups and departments to reach out to six Vietnam veterans and let them speak about their time in Vietnam and their return home form the war. So here they are.

Vietnam Veterans Are Welcomed Home

On November 14th 2021 scores of Vietnam Veterans were given the welcome they should had had decades ago. The event took place in Jacksonville, FL, at the Vystar Arena. Here is a short highlight of the wonderful and patriotic day.

Tracy Sefcik Rides Again

In 2018 Tracy rode into St Augustine on a bike to raise money for the Gary Sinise Foundation, she departed the west coast and rode 3000+ miles to St Augustine. Now after several challenges she is ready to ride again. To visit her ride of 2018 go here:

National POW MIA Memorial and Museum At Cecil Field

This short documentary of the history of NAS Cecil Field, the families of those who gave the ultimate price, the planning and funding of the project of bringing a National POW MIA Memorial and Museum at Cecil Field in Jacksonville, FL, and the need of support from the public to make it possible are all explored in this short documentary. Please support this project and do not forget their sacrifice.

The Korean War Remembered

On Veterans Day (Nov. 11, 2020) the Veterans Council of St Johns County honors all its veterans with this documentary honoring those who served in the Korean War of 1950-1953. This documentary will also be broadcast on Nov. 11 on WJCT 7:00 pm. First Coast.TV had the honor and privilege to research, film and edit this documentary under the guidance of the Veterans Council of St Johns County.

St. Augustine (VA) Community Based Outpatient Clinic Breaks Ground

On Friday, though, there was a celebration for the groundbreaking of the St. Augustine (VA) Community Based Outpatient Clinic at 100 Deerfield Preserve Blvd. (just off State Road 207). It will open in about a year and should then be named the Leo C. Chase Jr. Department of Veterans Affairs Clinic in honor of the county’s first solider to die in the Vietnam War. The ceremony Friday attracted Gov. Ron DeSantis, who attended the opening of the temporary facility as a member of Congress in 2015, Rep. John Rutherford (R-Jacksonville), county commissioners, St. Augustine and St. Augustine Beach commissioners, members of the Chase family and various others associated with the project.

Memorial Walls Arrive St Augustine with Escort

The American Legion 5th District of Florida, was one of hundreds in St. Augustine on Sunday afternoon waiting to see the caravan of trailers, motorcyclists and police escorts as it pulled into Elks Lodge 829 on State Road A1A.

The fanfare marked the arrival of the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall which traveled from St. Cloud to Daytona Beach and then St. Augustine over the last few days. The Vietnam Memorial Wall — along with another one dedicated to the fallen soldiers in the War on Terrorism — will be on display for the Veterans Day celebration at Anastasia Baptist Church on Monday.

The traveling memorial, etched with the names of those Americans who sacrificed their lives in combat, is one of several replicas that tour cities like St. Augustine all across the U.S. each year.

Anastasia Baptist Church will open at 9 a.m. Monday to allow visitors to tour both traveling walls in the atrium before the official Veterans Day ceremony begins at 11 a.m. Anastasia Baptist Church is at 1650 State Road A1A in St. Augustine. Admission and parking are free.

Commemoration 50th Anniversary of Vietnam War Veterans 2019

The Corazon Cinema and Cafe was the venue for the 50th Anniversary Vietnam War Commemoration Ceremony. The keynote Speaker was LT COL (RET) Barry Bridger, who was a prisoner at the Hanoi Hilton for over 6 years. His message was powerful and thought provoking. Authorized by Congress, established under the Secretary of Defense, and launched by the President in May 2012, the Vietnam War Commemoration recognizes all men and women who served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces from Nov. 1, 1955 to May 15, 1975. Nine million Americans served during this period, and the Commemoration makes no distinction between Veterans who served in-country, in-theater, or were stationed elsewhere during those 20 years. All answered the call of duty. This year NCA will participate in honoring Vietnam Veterans during the week of March 23 – March 31, 2019. During the event there was a presentation of Certificates of Honor.

Mike Hill and Veterans H.B. 97

On location at the Fort Mose State Park and Museum, Derek Boyd Hankerson, a Floridian filmmaker and historian of Gullah Geechee heritage, had the opportunity to sit down with Florida State Representative Mike Hill to discuss Rep Hill’s proposed Veterans Bill H. B. 97, the Monuments and Memorials; Designates act “Soldiers’ and Heroes’ Monuments and Memorials Protection Act”.  

The National Historic Landmark of Fort Mose, established in 1738, served as a fitting location for the conversation as the bill “…defines ‘remembrance’; prohibits damage to or removal of certain remembrances; prohibits removal or other specified activities concerning remembrances on public property; grants certain persons standing for enforcement.” 

As a Military Academy graduate and direct descendant of Harlem Hellcats, Veteran Rep Mike Hill understands that freedom is not free.  He understands that veterans are from all walks of life, backgrounds, families, ethnicities and religions that have contributed to the great state of Florida and to America by putting themselves on the line and serving in the military. 

Located two miles north of the city of St. Augustine, Fort Mose is one of the earliest battle sites, pre-Revolutionary War, where the first Black Americans along with Hispanics, and Native Americans fought against the British for freedom and independence.  It is also the first free black settlement in North America that was settled by west and Central Africans from various tribes.

Fort Mose would fall under the protection of Rep Hill’s legislation as one of Florida’s 167 State Parks,

Wreaths Across America / St Augustine

St Augustine was one of the many cemeteries in the U.S. that participated in the Wreaths Across America on December 15th 2018. Wreaths Across America is dedicated to ensuring that headstones in all America’s National Cemeteries are adorned with a live holiday wreath at Christmas. A 12 year old paper boy for the Bangor Daily News named Morrill Worcester, now owner of Worcester Wreath Company of Harrington, Maine, won a trip to Washington D.C. Arlington National Cemetery made an especially indelible impression on him. Later in life, this experience reminded him that his good fortune was due to veterans, especially by those who made the ultimate sacrifice. In 1992, the Worcester Wreath Company found themselves with a surplus of 5,000 wreaths nearing the end of the holiday season. Seeing an opportunity to honor our country’s veterans arrangements were made for the surplus wreaths to be placed at Arlington National Cemetery, which included a special ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This year there will be placed over 1.8 million wreaths at 1,640 National Cemeteries.