On March 31, 2012, the veterans who proudly served their country during the Vietnam Conflict will finally get the recognition they are due – almost 40 years later.  

The USO of North Carolina and the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters, along with Charlotte Motor Speedway, are hosting the free Vietnam Veterans Homecoming Celebration 2012 event at the Charlotte Motor Speedway on March 31, 2012.  Open to all veterans, their families, community members and media, the event has drawn overwhelming support, as more than 28,000 people have already reserved their free tickets.  Remember, tickets are limited so please reserve tickets prior to the event!

“The service of our Vietnam Veterans, especially those that continued to serve after the war, has gone unrecognized for too long.  These warriors were the mentors and leaders responsible for today’s highly respected and combat-proven military,” retired Army Lt. Col. John Falkenbury, USO of NC president, said.  “The purpose of the celebrations is to honor the Vietnam veterans, educate the public on the service and sacrifices of the men and women that served, as well as their families, and to provide vital assistance by Veteran Service Organizations.”

Vietnam veterans never received the type of homecoming celebration that today’s troops receive as they return from service.  To honor those who served and the military members who returned from combat, the USO of North Carolina is holding a long, overdue homecoming celebration.  The Vietnam Veterans Homecoming Celebration is set to be an unforgettable experience featuring live entertainment, displays and demonstrations, military salutes, and much more!  Supporting partners for the event include Lowe’s, Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola Consolidated, Lorillard Tobacco, RJR, Golden Corral, General Dynamics, and New Breed Logistics.

Gates open to fans at 9 a.m. and opening ceremonies beginning at 11 a.m.  General admission tickets are sold out, but all veterans with valid ID can still get tickets the day of the event. Get more information at www.charlottemotorspeedway.com/WelcomeHome.  Event maps, parking information, directions are available online.  The first 4,500 Veterans to arrive will receive a free lunch complementary of Golden Corral.  The event will come to an end at 4:30 p.m.

Entertainment to Salute the Veterans

The entertainment line-up includes some true legends and passionate Americans that are proud to salute the Veterans:

The Charlie Daniels Band, featuring Charlie Daniels, who was born in Wilmington, N.C., and was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry on January 24, 2008.  Charlie was raised on a musical diet that included Pentecostal gospel, local bluegrass bands and the rhythm and blues and country music from Nashville's 50,000-watt radio stations WLAC and WSM.  Charlie Daniels won the Grammy Award for Best Country Vocal Performance in 1979 for "The Devil Went Down to Georgia", which reached No. 3 on the Hot 100 in September 1979.

George Clinton, born in Kannapolis, N.C. on July 22, 1941, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997 with 15 other members of Parliament-Funkadelic.  He has been cited as one of the foremost innovators of funk music, along with James Brown and Sly Stone. Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic dominated diverse music during the 1970s with more than 40 R&B hit singles (including three No. 1s) and three platinum albums.

The Oak Ridge Boys will help the USO of North Carolina kick off the Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans festivities Friday, March 30, at a private dinner and performance for event partners and more than 300 invited Vietnam veterans and their guests.  The Oak Ridge Boys are known for their four-part harmonies which have earned them Grammy, Dove, CMA and ACM awards and millions of fans.

Rockie Lynne, a native of Statesville, N.C., is a veteran of the United States Army, having served in the 82nd Airborne Division.  His debut single “Lipstick” on Universal Records, spent 10 consecutive weeks in the No. 1 slot on Billboard’s Country Singles Sales Chart.  His newest album, “Songs for Soldiers”, is a longer version of the record he originally compiled to give away to troops during his overseas tour of U.S. Military bases.

The 82nd Airborne Division “All American” Chorus, stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C., has performed across the country and overseas.  They will join the Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Celebration to honor the Vietnam Veterans.  The chorus is composed of paratroopers from every brigade in the 82d Airborne Division. The 82nd Abn Div has served the United States since World War II and currently has several brigades deployed to Afghanistan.

The 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing Band, stationed at Marine Corps Air Station -- Cherry Point, N.C., continues the fine tradition of serving as musical units that are an integral part of the military.  It represents one of the finest organizations in musical excellence.  This ensemble of Marine musicians completes more than 150 commitments annually and travels in excess of 30,000 miles.  Throughout their travels, they uphold the old and honored Marine traditions of pride, professionalism, and esprit de corps.

Master of Ceremonies - Called “the next Marilyn Monroe,” Chris Noel played opposite Steve McQueen in “Soldier in the Rain”, and co-starred in “Girl Happy” with Elvis Presley! But in 1965, after visiting wounded veterans in a hospital, Chris realized her true calling.  The starlet became a soldier and a DJ for Armed Forces Radio Network, and her daily radio show, "A Date with Chris," was an instant hit.  While visiting Vietnam in person to sing for the boys, Chris braved sniper fire and experienced a terrifying helicopter crash.  In the 1970s, as war raged abroad and at home, Chris got married to a handsome young Lieutenant . . . but her battlefield romance was devastated by a shocking tragedy.  In the 1990s, after opening a number of shelters for homeless veterans, she went on to become a national advocate and icon for a lost generation of Vietnam Veterans.

Event Features Patriotic Displays and Activities 

The opening ceremonies will begin with a grand entrance from the Vietnam veterans’ motorcycle groups, Rolling Thunder and Patriot Guard.  These non-profit organizations have one thing in common besides motorcycles, their unwavering respect for those who risk their very lives for America’s freedom and security.  Be there as their motorcycles roar and rattle through Charlotte Motor Speedway’s infield to start the celebrations.

Participants can experience a range of military exhibits, displays and demonstrations including:

  • U.S. Army Golden Knights parachute demonstration
  • Flag Story from U.S. Army Color Guard and Flag Troops
  • U.S. Marine Corps Armored Vehicles
  • U.S. Navy Suburban Recruiting Vehicles
  • U.S. Air Force Flyover
  • Coast Guard Static Displays
  • The American Veterans Traveling Tribute, an 80 percent replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.  
  • Information tables and assistance from the Department of Veterans Affairs
  • World War II Half Track
  • Numerous displays from North Carolina based Veteran Service Organizations
  •  A host of non-profit organizations devoted to supporting military members, veterans, and their families
  • American Red Cross
  • Displays featuring David Kennerly’s Pulitzer prize-winning portfolio of combat photos from the Vietnam conflict.
  • Various Vietnam-era helicopters provided by the NC Vietnam Pilots Association
  • Coca-Cola Family Fun Zone where Coca-Cola will provide a variety of entertainment for the whole family including interactive games, the Coca-Cola NASCAR Show car, driving simulators and video game cans all free during the event.

USO of North Carolina Is Spreading the Word

To help spread the word about the upcoming event, the Vietnam Veterans Homecoming Celebration has been airing public service announcements featuring U.S. Army Gen. Hugh Shelton (Ret.), Former Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Vietnam War Veteran and Col. (Ret.) Quincy Collins, U.S. Air Force.

From mid February to mid March, USO of North Carolina will also be promoting and educating North Carolinians about the Vietnam Veterans Homecoming Celebration with four moving displays (double sided 102” wide by 90” tall) featuring photographer David Kennerly’s Pulitzer prize-winning portfolio of combat photos from the Vietnam conflict.  David Hume Kennerly has been shooting on the front lines of history for more than 45 years and has photographed over 8 wars.  At 25, the Roseburg, Oregon native won the 1972 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography for his previous year’s work that included photos of the Vietnam, Cambodia, and India-Pakistan Wars, and the Ali-Frazier fight in Madison Square Garden.

Support Organizations to Provide Veterans Services 

The Department of Veterans Affairs will have mobile units and critical assets to process claims and conduct health assessments and numerous Veteran Service Organizations and military non-profit organizations will be taking part in this great event.  Veterans are asked to bring their DD Form 214 so they can receive help, if needed.  Additionally, over 40 military and veteran non-profits will been on site to provide information and assistance.

To view a map of the event, click here.

For more information on the Vietnam Veterans’ Homecoming Celebration, visit                     www.charlottemotorspeedway.com/WelcomeHome, follow the event on twitter at        http://twitter.com/VetsWelcomeHome and “like” it on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/VetsHomecoming2012. To see the PSA, visit http://www.youtube.com/user/VetsHomecoming.  For display and sponsorship opportunities, contact welcomehomeinfo@uso-nc.org.

About the USO of North Carolina

The USO of North Carolina's vision … leading the way to enrich the lives of America’s military in the Carolinas.  The mission of the USO of North Carolina is to serve and support America’s military and their families. For over 70 years, the USO (United Service Organizations) of NC has been providing morale, welfare and recreational services to U.S. military personnel and their families.  The USO of NC is a nonprofit, charitable organization, relying on the generosity of North Carolinians to support its programs and services.  The USO of NC is supported by Marine Federal Credit Union, LC Industries, Bank of America, GEICO, Lowes, Kangaroo Express, the Cannon Foundation and other corporate donors.  The United Way and the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC-29349) have joined thousands of individual donors to support the USO.  For more information on the USO of NC, visit www.uso-nc.org.

About Charlotte Motor Speedway

For 52 years, Charlotte Motor Speedway has set the standard for motorsports entertainment and evolved into "The Greatest Place to See the Race." Nestled in the heart of NASCAR country, Charlotte Motor Speedway is the only race vacation destination where fans can immerse themselves in the sport by visiting area race team shops and touring the NASCAR Hall of Fame before attending a race at the legendary 1.5-mile superspeedway. Generating a regional economic impact of approximately $400 million annually, the speedway hosts three premiere NASCAR events each year - the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, the Coca-Cola 600 and the Bank of America 500 - as well as more than three dozen other events for automotive and motorsports enthusiasts of all ages. Charlotte Motor Speedway's philosophy is to always put "fans first" and create memories that last a lifetime for all who pass through the gates.

About NCAB

The North Carolina Association of Broadcasters unites public and commercial radio and television stations across North Carolina. The purpose of the Association is to foster and promote the interests of Broadcasters and the Broadcasting industry, communicate relevant information to its members through meetings and publications, and to provide support and educational services through webinars, workshops and other means in order to better serve the public. More information is available on the NCAB (www.ncbroadcast.com).