Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Vietnam Veterans Reminisce ; Group Meets at Holiday Inn

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Vietnam Veterans Reminisce ; Group Meets at Holiday Inn

Article excerpt

Sitting among a room of fellow Vietnam veterans at the Holiday Inn in Evansville Thursday evening, 73-year-old Bill Coup talked with others who had worked at the Tan Son Nhut Air Base in South Vietnam just as he had nearly 50 years ago. "When we talk to each other, we know what we're talking about. Civilian people are just, military life is just so different from civilian life," said Coup, who served at the air base from 1965 to 1966, and again in 1971.

He and more than 90 other Vietnam War veterans and their families are in Evansville for the annual reunion of the Tan Son Nhut Association, an organization with more than 500 members nationwide and other countries.

In 1993, Princeton, Indiana, resident and Vietnam veteran Don Parker, 67, with the help of his wife Sue Ellen Parker, organized the first reunion in Evansville at the Executive Inn, which Coup, now a director in the group, attended. It was expanded the next year to include any member who had served at the Tan Son Nhut Air Base during the entire length of the Vietnam War.

"Like most Vietnam veterans, he had already moved everything Vietnam out of his mind and didn't care to bring it back," said Sue Ellen Parker. "This helped him and the other guys talk about what they had hidden."

In addition to fraternization, the group will dedicate a new Vietnam War memorial at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Old Courthouse. The memorial bench will eventually make its way to the riverfront with the other war memorials as a permanent installation.

The memorial bench was donated by Evansville business Monumental Memories.

"They said they figured the bill was paid in full by all the veterans' service," Don Parker said.

George Plunkett, the group's 72-year-old president from West Columbia, South Carolina, said he's made hundreds of new friends since joining the organization

"When you're stationed with people even for a year, 40 years later you see them again and you pick up the conversation where you left off. …

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