Home / Commissary History / Honoring Vietnam War Veterans
March 29 is National Vietnam War Veterans Day

Honoring Vietnam War Veterans

Today, March 29, is National Vietnam War Veterans Day, a national observance that recognizes military service members who served in the Vietnam War. We pause today to honor those who served here and reflect on the history of military commissaries during this conflict.

The U.S. Navy opened Vietnam’s first American military commissary in Saigon in 1959, where it served both U.S. troops and their dependents, until all dependents were ordered to immediately evacuate Vietnam following the Gulf of Tonkin incident in 1964.

As demand on the Saigon Commissary increased following its opening in 1959, branch stores later opened in Long Binh, the Cholon and Newport districts and near Tan Son Nhut Air Base.

 

  • Achievement awards, presented to outstanding Vietnamese employees of the Saigon (downtown location, apparently) commissary, 1963.
  • In 1965, the lower floor of this building held the "downtown" or "main" commissary and exchange, located on Pah Dinh Phung Street.
  • Interior of commissary in South Vietnam, probably the downtown store, and probably in 1965.
  • Interior of Saigon commissary, probably the downtown location, and probably in or about 1965.
  • Commissary Officer/Officer in Charge Lt. James Thompson (L) escorts Capt. Archie C. Kuntze, commanding officer of the Navy Headquarters Support Activity, Saigon, on a tour of the renovated store in 1964 or 1965.
  • Exterior of the Cholon compound commissary and exchange, Saigon, Vietnam, 1966.
  • Exchange and Commissary at Cholon Compound, South Vietnam, circa 1969-1974.
  • April 29, 1975: South Vietnamese civilians carry as much as they can after plundering the U.S. commissary at Newport just outside Saigon.
  • April 29, 1975: South Vietnamese civilians carry as much as they can after plundering the U.S. commissary at Newport just outside Saigon.

 

As thousands more ground troops arrived in Vietnam, the U.S. Army assumed control of these commissaries in 1966, offering an assortment of products in hopes of boosting service member morale, including ice cream and chocolate milk supplied by the American dairies that began operating in Saigon.

Following the 1973 ceasefire, commissaries remained in Vietnam to support Americans serving there in non-combat missions until Communist forces took Saigon on April 30, 1975.

Approximately 9 million U.S. military members served on active duty during the Vietnam War era, 2.7 million of whom served in Vietnam. More than 58,000 service members were killed and more than 304,000 were wounded during this conflict.

Many commissary and exchange locations will be holding commemorative ceremonies today to honor and recognize veterans who served on active duty during the Vietnam War era. All such U.S. military veterans who served between November 1, 1955 and May 15, 1975 are invited to attend ceremonies at these locations and receive a lapel pin.

These events are free and open to the public, but we encourage you to contact participating commissary and exchange locations to confirm ceremony locations and times. You can find a list of participating commissary and exchange store locations by clicking the button below:

Find Participating Ceremony Locations

Check Also

David Dellinger

Every now and then we get to say goodbye to an extraordinary individual that made …