OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma House of Representatives on Monday unanimously approved a pair of resolutions recognizing Vietnam veterans and welcoming them home.
The House also honored Vietnam Veteran Gary LaBass, of Owasso, as the Veteran of the Week.
House Resolution 1018, by Rep. Tommy Hardin, R-Madill, officially recognized and honored Vietnam War veterans for their service and sacrifice, joining the national celebration of Vietnam War Veterans Day.
The resolution also expressed appreciation for the veterans’ service to the state and nation and with deep appreciation welcomed them home.
“Unfortunately, due to the unpopularity of the Vietnam War at its end, our nation’s veterans were not welcomed with open arms as they should have been when they finally returned home,” said Hardin, a Marine. “These brave service members deserve our utmost respect and gratitude for their willingness to serve and sacrifice for their country and in pursuit of freedom everywhere, and we thank them for their heroism and valor.”
House Resolution 1017, by Rep. Mike Dobrinski, R-Okeene, proclaimed March 29 as “Captain Bob Ford Day” in recognition of Captain Robert L. Ford, a native Oklahoman who flew over 1,000 combat missions in Vietnam for the U.S. Army.
Ford was instrumental in helping to establish the “Tip of the Spear” exhibit, which officially opened at the Oklahoma History Center on Monday and was attended by many representatives.
The outdoor exhibit features a Bell UH-1 helicopter, better known as the Huey, which become an iconic symbol of the Vietnam War. It sits atop a representation of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, "The Wall," which represents the more than 58,000 lives of U.S. service members, including 988 Oklahomans, lost in the war.
Rep. Mark Vancuren, R-Owasso, recognized Army Veteran Specialist Fourth Class Gary LaBass, who is from his House District and who was his former football coach, as veteran of the week in the House.
“In high school, I learned that Coach LaBass was a veteran, but as to the extent of his service, I was initially unaware,” Vancuren said. “Only later did I find out from a relative who was reading a book about battlefield valor of Purple Heart recipients about the true sacrifice and wartime experiences of Coach LaBass. Now, he is not just my ninth-grade football coach but a hero.”