Veteran’s Day Community Walk: It’s Never Too Late to Say Thank You

community walk

In planning the 3rd annual Community Walk for Veterans Bruce Winningham located 50 Vietnam veterans living locally. Credit: Leslie Yager

It was a wet morning, but the third annual Veteran’s Day Community Walk was spared rain and the event benefited from a good turnout and hundreds of American flags. This year, among the walkers were the Cos Cob Riders,  and Bruce Winningham of the Greenwich Military Covenant of Care, which organized the event, was able to locate 50 Vietnam Veterans living among us in Greenwich.

Mr. Winningham said that of the Vietnam veterans he connected with over the past several months, “Most of them have never met each other and did not even know each other’s name,” Winningham.

Bob McKnight described service in Vietnam, where he served straight out of high school at the age of 19. Credit: Leslie Yager

Bob McKnight described service in Vietnam, where he served straight out of high school at the age of 19. Credit: Leslie Yager

Bob McKnight served in the US Army in Vietnam, which he said different, but not unique. Mr. McKnight said he had no regrets looking back. “I was 19, fresh out of high school in a far away land. “We were called boots, grunts,” he said.  “We were infantry.”

“Our task was to locate and destroy the elusive enemy supply lines. Toting  60-80 pounds on our backs, with rifles in hands, we patrolled 8-10 miles by day, and when lit by night, in an attempt to ensnare the enemy,” he said.  McKnight described traipsing through rice patties and thick brush hoping to avoid booby-traps, firefights and landmines.

community walk

On Greenwich Avenue, the third annual Community Walk for veterans, organized by the Greenwich Military Covenant of Care, Nov. 11, 2015.Credit: Leslie Yager

community walk

On Greenwich Avenue, the third annual Community Walk for veterans, organized by the Greenwich Military Covenant of Care, Nov. 11, 2015.Credit: Leslie Yager

He said in Vietnam, the temperature was over 100° with 80% humidity, which morphed into  weeks of torrential rain.

“Humanity was tough to maintain,” he said. “There was no rear offering a sense of security. It was all encompassing war zone.”

Mr. Mcknight said his heroes are the names of his classmates who didn’t make it home and whose names are listed on the war monument that served as the backdrop for the featured speakers.

community walk

Mike Funck talked about having a longtime friend who he never knew had also served in Vietnam in 1969. “I really put it on the back shelf for a long time,” Funck said. Credit: Leslie Yager

Mike Funck, who served in the US Army in Vietnam, leaving behind a new wife and baby, said he remembered coming home in 1969 and walking down a long corridor in the airport where there was a big sign that said, ‘Welcome Home – America’s Proud of You,’ but no people to welcome them.

Funck said that coming home was challenging and that because so many people were very opposed to the war, he  decided not talk about it. “I really put it on the back shelf for a long time,” he said. He said he had been so quiet about it, that he was surprised to learn that a longtime friend had also served in Vietnam in 1969. “In six years we’d never mentioned it to each other.”

Matt Calderon

Matt Calderon who served in the US Army in Afghanistan said it was because of veterans before him that veterans today are thanked. “We do thank you — as the new generation — for everything you’ve done for us and everything you set up for us.” Credit: Leslie Yager

Matt Calderon who served in the US Army in Afghanistan expressed his gratitude to those who came before him.

“I come here for the guys who didn’t have the appreciation that we have nowadays. I greatly appreciate what you guys did. I understand that you guys weren’t thanked,” Calderon said. “We do thank you as the new generation for everything you set up for us. Thank you.”

Donny Repaci

Liz Repaci, spoke of her former brother, in-law Corporal Donald Repaci, who was killed in 1969 in South Vietnam at just 21 years old. Credit: Leslie Yager

community walk

On Greenwich Avenue, the third annual Community Walk for veterans, organized by the Greenwich Military Covenant of Care, Nov. 11, 2015.Credit: Leslie Yager

community walk

On Greenwich Avenue, the third annual Community Walk for veterans, organized by the Greenwich Military Covenant of Care, Nov. 11, 2015.Credit: Leslie Yager

community walk

Sergeant Dan Griffin said that in Vietnam there was no front line and no back line. “We were surrounded wherever we went,” he said. Credit: Leslie Yager

von Keyserling and Calderon

Christopher von Keyserling greets Matt Calderon on Greenwich Ave, Nov. 11, 2015. Credit: Leslie Yager

Ed Fox

Ed Fox who served in the Navy and is active with the Byram Veterans, held a flag during the community walk on Nov. 11, 2015. Credit: Leslie Yager

John TImm

John Timm, member of the US Marine Corps, participated in the Veterans Day Community Walk,Nov. 11, 2015

John Timm

John Timm, member of the US Marine Corps, participated in the Veterans Day Community Walk,Nov. 11, 2015

community walk

The third annual Veterans Day Community Walk, Nov. 11, 2015

Charles Paksi

Charles Paksi spoke during the 3rd annual Community Walk for veterans, Nov.11, 2015 Credit: Leslie Yager

Carl Cantavero

Carl Cantavero speaking during the community walk organized by the Greenwich Military Covenant of Care. Credit: Leslie Yager

community walk

Bruce Winningham of the Greenwich Military Covenant of Care said he connected with 50 Vietnam veterans living locally while planning the 3rd annual community walk. He named them all on Wednesday, followed by a huge round of applause and chorus of thank you’s. Credit: Leslie Yager

community walk

On Greenwich Avenue, the third annual Community Walk for veterans, organized by the Greenwich Military Covenant of Care, Nov. 11, 2015.Credit: Leslie Yager

community walk

Bruce Winningham of the Greenwich Military Covenant of Care said he connected with 50 Vietnam veterans living locally while planning the 3rd annual community walk. He named them all on Wednesday, followed by a huge round of applause and chorus of thank you’s. Credit: Leslie Yager

community walk

Bruce Winningham of the Greenwich Military Covenant of Care said he connected with 50 Vietnam veterans living locally while planning the 3rd annual community walk. He named them all on Wednesday, followed by a huge round of applause and chorus of thank you’s. Credit: Leslie Yager

community walk

Bruce Winningham of the Greenwich Military Covenant of Care said he connected with 50 Vietnam veterans living locally while planning the 3rd annual community walk. He named them all on Wednesday, followed by a huge round of applause and chorus of thank you’s. Credit: Leslie Yager

community walk

Connections were made during the 3rd annual Veterans Day Community Walk on Greenwich Avenue, Nov. 11, 2015 Credit: Leslie Yager

community walk

The war monument outside Havemeyer was the backdrop for the speakers during the community walk, Nov. 11, 2015. Credit: Leslie Yager

war monument

The war monument outside Havemeyer was the backdrop for the speakers during the community walk, Nov. 11, 2015. Credit: Leslie Yager

community walk

On Greenwich Avenue, the third annual Community Walk for veterans, organized by the Greenwich Military Covenant of Care, Nov. 11, 2015.Credit: Leslie Yager

community walk

On Greenwich Avenue, the third annual Community Walk for veterans, organized by the Greenwich Military Covenant of Care, Nov. 11, 2015.Credit: Leslie Yager

community walk

On Greenwich Avenue, the third annual Community Walk for veterans, organized by the Greenwich Military Covenant of Care, Nov. 11, 2015.Credit: Leslie Yager

See also:

Greenwich Woman’s Veterans Day Request: Honor Ferdinand Meringolo and All “The Forgotten Men”

So You Think You Want to Be a Veteran? Bob DeAngelo Visits St. Roch’s After-School Program


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