My husband, Larry “Hawk” Sims, is a veteran who proudly served as a member of the 101st Airborne “Screaming Eagles,” serving in Vietnam 1970–1971. He served in Company E, 2nd Bn, 327th INF, 101st ABN, consisting of Recon, Snipers, and Mortars. This was the last unit of the 101st Airborne to leave Vietnam, making it the longest serving unit in combat during the Vietnam war.
Hawk was deployed to 12 different Fire Bases from Saigon north to the DMZ, earning the Bronze Star and Combat Infantry Badge. He also earned the Good Conduct, Army Commendation, Republic of Vietnam Service, National Defense, and American Spirit Honor medals. They award the American Spirit Honor Medal to not more than one trainee upon completion of basic training, out of the graduating group at each training center. They award it for, “the display of outstanding qualities of leadership best expressing the American spirit – honor, initiative, loyalty, and high example to comrades in arms.” Drill instructors and a board of officers determine selection.
After serving his country as a combat soldier for over a year, he returned home to an empty airport in Seattle, Washington. Unfortunately, returning Vietnam vets were not greeted by cheering crowds, marching bands, or flying flags. At that time, many in our country were flying flags for veterans of past wars, but not the Vietnam veterans.
Hawk, a humble man, seldom discusses Vietnam, yet he continues to show his love for his country in many ways. On patriotic holidays, he proudly displays the flag he fought for from sunrise to sunset, . I have watched him shake the hand of many military veterans and say, “Thank you for your service.” When the the Star-Spangled Banner is played, he stands, removes his hat, and places his hand over his heart. He kneels reverently for his God, and stands proudly for his country, like the vast majority of all veterans. He is a veteran who deserves recognition on Veterans’ Day, along with many, many others. In today’s national climate of disrespect in too many areas, I hope on this Veterans’ Day, we can all pause, honor, and remember our veterans.