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Residents join Vietnam veterans in San Antonio
Elizandro De Los Santos and his wife, Lillie, are among veterans who gathered Oct. 3 for a reunion in San Antonio for armed forces personnel who served at Phan Rang Air Base during the Vietnam War.
Elizandro and Lillie De Los Santos of Floresville joined Vietnam War veterans who had been stationed at Phan Rang Air Base, South Vietnam, during the Vietnam War for an Oct. 3 reunion in San Antonio. The reunion was open to all who had served at the base, regardless of service branch.
The majority of those at the reunion were Air Force veterans. All branches of services that served at Phan Rang Air Base during the 1960s and 1970s were welcome. Phan Rang also hosted the Australian No. 2 Air Assault Squadron, a contingent of South Korean military, and several U.S. Army units.
De Los Santos served at Phan Rang from September 1966 to September 1967.
“We had an absolutely fantastic reunion and most of us have bid farewell,” said Doug Severt, the main organizer of the reunion. “Everything went well. The tour of Lackland Air Force Base was one of the most inspiring events that I’ve ever witnessed. Hollywood couldn’t have done any better.”
Those attending the Vietnam reunion this year were guests at Lackland for a graduation parade honoring those who have completed Air Force basic training this year as hundreds of people watched from the stands. More than 500 young men and women committed themselves to serve in the greatest air force in the world, De Los Santos said.
“It was an awesome display of American loyalty,” De Los Santos said, adding that it wasn’t anything like when he graduated in 1964. “We were treated as dignitaries; our seats were next to the reviewing stand and only a few feet from the parade ground. The Wing Commander personally came and welcomed us to the graduation, and during the ceremony an announcement was made that a distinguished group of Vietnam veterans was present and we received a standing ovation. There wasn’t a dry eye in the group.”
De Los Santos also was reunited with a friend who was stationed with him at Phan Rang. The two had not seen or heard from each other since 1967, 46 years ago.
The veterans plan to reunite again in October 2014 in Tucson, Ariz.
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