VFW members show support for U.S. troops

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 23, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; When they returned home from Vietnam, veterans Donnie Verucchi, Tommy Williams and Johnny Rodriguez didn’t get much of a reception.

So on Sunday afternoon, instead of watching the war in Iraq on television, they decided to show their support for the troops.

&uot;The only statement we’re making is that we can tell our grandkids we didn’t sit on the couch and watch the war. We got up and did something about it,&uot; Verucchi said as he and his fellow veterans stood along Seargent S. Prentiss Drive outside the VFW hall. They carried American and POW flags.

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Passing motorists showed their support in various ways &045; some honking car horns, some waving or saluting, some simply giving a thumbs up.

&uot;It lights my heart up,&uot; Rodriguez said of the support.

&uot;You get a feel for how the community feels,&uot; Williams said.

That support, Verucchi said, was not there when he and other Vietnam veterans returned home from the war.

&uot;We were told not to wear our uniforms when we came home for our own protection in California,&uot; he said. &uot;I was so glad to get home it didn’t matter &045; but when I look back on it now, it really bothers me.&uot;

Seeing war coverage on television &045; especially Sunday’s reports of some American soldiers being taken as prisoners of war &045; hits home for these veterans.

&uot;They’re not getting the treatment we would give

(to them),&uot; Rodriguez said of the Iraqi regime. &uot;That’s when we really need to get behind these troops.&uot;

But seeing television coverage of war protests is also affecting &045; and it’s part of what inspired the three VFW members to take their own stand Sunday. &uot;We don’t agree with the war protesting at all,&uot; Verucchi said. &uot;The soldiers gave them that right.&uot;

&uot;We just want to show our troops we’re behind them,&uot; Rodriguez said.