Fifty years ago last month, 3,500 U.S. Marines landed in South Vietnam. They were the first American combat troops on the ground — the official start to the Vietnam conflict for the United States.

The communist government of North Vietnam was in a battle with South Vietnam, supported by the United States since 1950. Three years after U.S. troops first were deployed to Vietnam, more than 500,000 troops were in the country fighting with the South Vietnamese soldiers.

It was a long war and Thursday members of the Ardmore chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution thanked members of the community for their part in serving during the conflict.

Members of the DAR, along with special guests, applauded the 13 Vietnam veterans.

“This is just a beautiful sight,” said Royce Groeschel, Regent of the Ardmore chapter. “It is my honor to thank and honor all the veterans.”

Members of the volunteer women’s organization that is dedicated to promoting patriotism, preserving American history and focusing on the future, invited a majority of the veterans to the ceremony. From the Ardmore Veterans Center, four gentlemen were honored.

The club also presented awards to two family members in memory of their veterans.

“It was just awesome,” said Groeschel.

All veterans received a special certificate along with a U.S. Flag. The ceremony was part of a national DAR initiative. The local club was quick to participate as remembering and honoring veterans is one of their objectives that is exercised throughout the year with participation in events on Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

Members surprised fellow member DeMaurice Barber with a special recognition for her service to veterans. Barber has volunteered at the Ardmore Veterans Center for about two decades.

“She is a dedicated volunteer,” Groeschel said. “She plays bingo with the veterans and gives them cards on their birthday. She faithfully goes out there each month to see the veterans.”

The ceremony also featured speaker Dorothy Dighton Fulton, who served as a nurse during the Vietnam War.

“We all have our story to tell regardless of rank, service time or where we served in the world,” she said. “We all have a story.”

Following the war, she came to Ardmore to work for the hospital. Now a resident of Huntsville, Texas, she continues to come to Ardmore each month to work with patients through Cross Timbers Hospice.

@lauraeastes_ARD