Mattis to honor Tri-Cities Vietnam vets — a welcome 50 years in the making

Vietnam veterans will be welcomed home belatedly with a celebration in Kennewick 50 years after the height of America’s commitment to the war.

Former Defense Secretary James Mattis, a Richland native and retired Marine Corps general, is to speak at the Oct. 25 celebration.

Those who served in the Vietnam War for the United States or the Republic of Vietnam can receive a free ticket, plus a ticket for a guest. Advance registration is required.

The celebration at 5:30 p.m. at the Three Rivers Convention Center in Kennewick is intended to honor both American veterans and also their South Vietnamese counterparts, who lost their country.

Many Vietnam veterans have never been welcomed home, except by family, according to the Columbia Basin Veterans Center.

“We believe our community will join with us by showing their appreciation with their generosity by helping us cover the expenses for all the veteran attendees,” said Joetta Rupert, executive director of the veterans center.

Tickets will cost $60 for other veterans, their guests and the public, and donations and table sponsorships also are being sought.

To make a donation, register for a free ticket or purchase a ticket, call 509-545-6558 or visit the Columbia Basin Veterans Center at 1600 N. 20th Ave., Pasco, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays.