American Legion Field-Allen Post 148 and Gov. Paul LePage will honor 40 local Vietnam War veterans at an afternoon open house on Memorial Day in Windham.

The event, which will be held at 1 p.m. at the Windham Veterans Center, will be preceded by a picnic-style lunch starting at 11 a.m. and the presentation of the Educator of the Year award. The ceremony will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first deployment of American combat troops in Vietnam.

Windham’s event is part of a nationwide Department of Defense initiative to honor Vietnam War veterans, according to Rodney Voisine, the vice commander of Post 148 and a Marine Corps veteran who served as a helicopter mechanic in Vietnam from 1969-1970. In February, Voisine sent an email to LePage’s office, asking him to speak at the event.

According to LePage’s press secretary, Adrienne Bennett, the governor allocated $1,000 from the $350,000 Governor’s Contingency Fund to assist Post 148 in its commemoration of Vietnam veterans. In a letter accompanying the check, LePage thanked the Legion for holding the ceremony.

“As Americans, we have a responsibility to support and thank our past and present military service members,” LePage wrote. “As a Department of Defense registered Commemorative Partner, your Memorial Day events are part of a nationwide effort intended to recognize Vietnam veterans for their contributions to the war and their communities. These events are essential to ensuring that we remember the sacrifices of our Vietnam War veterans.”

Voisine has invited 40 Vietnam veterans, mostly residents of Cumberland County, to attend the ceremony. LePage and Maine Army National Guard Acting Adjutant General Gerard Bolduc have signed certificates for each of the veterans.

The certificates, which will be delivered at the ceremony, read:

“In recognition of your honorable service during the Vietnam War in the armed forces of our country, we the citizens of the state of Maine, express our sincere appreciation of your sacrifice, courage, and willingness to serve our great state and nation. We are proud of you and thank you for your contribution to the defense of freedom.”

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