Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Although we thank our military men and women for their service now, there was a time when their homecoming was not greeted with a warm welcome. On Saturday, the Welcome Home to Carolina Campaign decided to give the South Carolina veterans of the Vietnam War the honor they deserved.
"I lived through a year of heck... putting it politely," said Vietnam veteran Phillip Ricard.
For Ricard, the dream of coming back home turned into a nightmare.
"I did my part for my country," Ricard said, "and we got treated like trash when I came back home.
The memory of his homecoming brought Ricard to tears.
"We get off the plane and we're getting bottles of water thrown at us trash thrown at us," Ricard remembered, "you know, it really hurt."
"When they came home they were spit on, they were called names," said Steven Jeffcoat, one of the Welcome Home to Carolina Campaign coordinators, "we find that hard to believe today because we've learned not to blame the soldier."
Jeffcoat says the event is an opportunity to give our Vietnam veterans the honor they never received.
"This is the time now to say, 'welcome home to the great state of South Carolina, thank you from a grateful nation, and thank you from a grateful state,'" Jeffcoat said.
Unfortunately, there were 928 servicemen who never made it back to the Palmetto State, but they were not forgotten.
"We did the yellow ribbons with each of their names on them and the date they were KIA or declared MIA," Jeffcoat said.
Hundreds of riders signed up to ride the yellow ribbons from Spirit Communications Park to the National Guard complex in Columbia. There, they held a ceremony for the ribbons and placed them in a locker to be on display at the South Carolina Military Museum.
"It's a great feeling," said Vietnam veteran Cephus Bright, "It really is a great feeling showing what you've done for your country is appreciated."
"I really appreciate what you all are doing," Ricard said.
Jeffcoat says that phase two of the Welcome Home campaign for Vietnam veterans will be in May, featuring a ground and air show and a free concert for the veterans and their families.