Local Vietnam Veterans Recognized for their Service

The last American military personnel left Vietnam in 1975, during the fall of Saigon.

It has taken nearly 40 years, but the Floridians who served in the Vietnam now have their own license plate to commemorate their service.

And, a local veteran was largely responsible for the new tag. The state of Florida had created license plates for veterans who served America in nearly every conflict for the last 100 years, every war except the Vietnam war.

"There were so many years when Vietnam veterans were ignored and all the anti-war protests and everything,” said Vietnam veteran Bob Hughes. “Finally in the last few years we've been able to talk to each other and talk about things."

Local Attorney Bob Hughes was a young Captain in the US army intelligence in 1969.

He advised the CIA for the Phoenix Project in Vietnam.

A few years ago he decided he wanted a Vietnam veterans license plate, only to find Florida did not have one.

So last year, Hughes approached State Representative Jimmy Patronis, who quickly took up the cause.

"Bay County's got the largest retired veterans community of any town its size in Florida so it's kind of a little awkward that it's been overlooked,” said Rep. Patronis. “But, we're going to make it right."

The bill containing the language for the Vietnam plate passed last spring, but when Hughes went back to the tax collector office to buy one, he discovered the state somehow overlooked actually creating the plate.

Once again, Patronis followed through, and Friday he presented Hughes with the Vietnam veterans license plate in the state of Florida.

Dozens of other local Vietnam vets attended the ceremony, picking-up their own order forms for the new tag.

There are more than 400,000 Vietnam veterans now living in Florida.

Application Form for getting the Vietnam Veteran Tag: