On May 18, 2018 the Charlestown Navy Yard Partners, alongside the Vietnam War Commemoration, honored the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. This event was part of a 13-year program that began 2012 to commemorate the milestone.
Nearly 400 Vietnam War veterans were invited aboard USS Constitution as she went on a tug-assisted underway cruise in Boston Harbor. Constitution traveled to Fort Independence on Castle Island where she fired a 21-gun salute in the direction of the Boston Vietnam Memorial. The salute was returned by the 101st Field Artillery of the Massachusetts National Guard. As “Old Ironsides” made her way back to the Navy Yard she fired a 17-gun salute toward the U.S. Coast Guard Base, the site of Edmund Hartt’s Shipyard where she was built and launched in 1797.
Constitution returned to her berth to the roar of Rolling Thunder, a group of motorcyclists that advocates for full accountability for prisoners of war (POWs) and missing in action (MIA) service members, and hundreds of visitors gathered to thank veterans as they disembarked the Ship. Throughout the day all were treated to live performances by the Navy Band Northeast and Patriotic Dancers and were able to meet, face-to-face, with representatives from the Massachusetts and Boston offices of Veterans’ Services, Home Base, Naval History & Heritage Command, and the USS Thomas Hudner (DDG 116) Commissioning Committee.
Following a reception hosted by the USS Constitution Museum guests attended a commemoration ceremony that included remarks from USS Constitution‘s officers, superintendent of the National Parks of Boston Michael Creasey, the director of the Vietnam War Commemoration Major General James Jackson USA (Ret.), chief of the National Guard Bureau General Joseph Lengyel, USAF, and keynote speaker General Richard Neal, USMC (Ret.). The veterans in attendance were honored during a pinning ceremony with the administrator of the Transportation Security Administration Vice Admiral David Pekoske and Adjutant General of the Massachusetts National Guard Major General Gary Keefe.