Celebrating Tulalip Vietnam Veterans

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

In 2017, the 45th President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, enacted a law that designated March 29th as the official National Vietnam War Veterans Day. Over nine million Americans served in the military during the Vietnam War era which expanded over the course of two decades from the 1950s to the 1970s. 

A reported 58,200 American lives were lost during the Vietnam conflict and the total number of causalities of war, including civilians, tallied well over one million on both sides.

According to the American Legion organization, the significance behind the date refers back to the historic day of March 29, 1973, when three major events took place; the day that the U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam was disestablished, the day that U.S. combat troops departed from Vietnam, and also the day that ‘Operation Homecoming’ was completed and close to 600 POW were released and brought home.

Throughout America’s history, Native Americans have served at a higher rate than any other demographic in the country, five times the national average to be exact. As the original caretakers of the Nation, defending this land may have a more significant meaning to tribal members across the country. It may be the reason why there are 31,000 active Native American men and women serving today, and why there are over 140,000 living veterans who are Indigenous, according to the Department of Defense.

At Tulalip, Tribal Veterans are held in high regard and thousands of sduhubš women and men served in all branches of the military, and a large percentage of those tribal members have seen combat action dating as far back as the first World War. 

Every Memorial Day and Veterans Day, Tulalip pays tribute to all the brave men and women who laid their life on the line defending this nation’s freedom. And as this new holiday gains more recognition throughout the country, Tulalip will be there to commemorate and thank those Tribal Veterans, and those lives lost in combat, during the Vietnam War era. 

Each year, Tulalip Vietnam Veteran and BOD member, Mel Sheldon takes on the Master of Ceremony duties during the Memorial Day services at both the Priest Point and Mission Beach cemeteries. 

During the 2021 Memorial Day services, Mel reflected on his time as a helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War, and stated, “When we went to Vietnam, there are guys I remember who became pilots [with me]. Because of Operation Lam Son 719, twelve of them did not get to come home. During my unit in Charlie Troop, I had two crew chiefs that did not get to come home. Two Cobra Pilots, their aircraft flew into the ground – we still don’t know why. I talked to them that morning, by noon they were gone. It is this day that I remember them in a good way, to remind us how fortunate we are. To remember too, how many Native Americans stepped up to the plate, especially at home here in Tulalip. We are very proud of our veterans who served.” 

To honor those local veterans who served during the Vietnam War era, the Tulalip Veterans Department provided a list of all the tribal members who enlisted in the military during the years of 1955-1975, whether they were deployed to Vietnam or stationed at a home base.

Thank you to all the Tulalip Vietnam War era Veterans for your service and defending your homelands.

Vietnam War Era Veterans

  • James, Andrew
  • Bill, Inez Madeline
  • Brown, Howard Warren
  • Sheldon, Karen Gail
  • Gobin, Michael James
  • Taylor, Calvin Lee
  • Williams, Linda Hunter
  • Brown, Lawrence Francis
  • Gobin, Bradley Joseph
  • Bradley Sr., Daniel Roy
  • Sweeney, Antonio Thomas
  • Alexander Jr., Maurice Clarence
  • Hatch III, Cyrus
  • Muir Jr., Richard James
  • Bradley, Jay Michael
  • Bradley, Ray Timothy
  • Madison, Richard Lee
  • Jones Sr., Steven Kenneth
  • Madison, Guy Michael
  • Gobin Sr., Steve Bernard
  • Lupe, Lorenzo D.
  • Sheldon Jr., Melvin Robert
  • Holding, Gary Gene
  • Jones, Joseph C.
  • Fryberg Sr., Raymond Lee
  • Moses, Daniel Kay
  • Zackuse Sr., Daniel Gene
  • Taylor, Harold Francis Wolfer
  • Davis, Marvin Richard
  • Williams Jr., William Michael
  • Contraro, Arthur Allan
  • Campbell, John Thunderbird
  • Dunn Sr., Michael Allen
  • Warbus, Steven Francis
  • Campbell, Walter Lee
  • McCoy, John Richard
  • Charles Jr., Wesley James
  • Moses, Albert A.
  • Ledford, Richard Dean