Ceremony to pay tribute to Vietnam veterans - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Ceremony to pay tribute to Vietnam veterans

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Bracelet honoring Tech Sgt. Phillips. Bracelet honoring Tech Sgt. Phillips.
HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) -

The Huntsville Chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America will hold a "Welcome Home" celebration on Friday. The 40th anniversary of US troops pulling out of the country is on March 30th.

Military guest speakers will pay tribute to Vietnam veterans and the US Army Materiel Band will perform. The band will start playing at 12:15 p.m. and the ceremony will start at 1 p.m. It will be at the Huntsville Madison County Veterans Memorial Park in downtown Huntsville.

The tribute will hold a special meaning to one Huntsville woman. Her father is 1 of 2 Madison County men listed as MIA on the Vietnam veterans statue at the memorial.

Teresa Phillips Schmitt and her five siblings were left without a father after his plane went down near the MeKong River in 1968. Tech Sgt. Elbert Austin Phillips' body was never found.

A few years ago, Teresa put her father's story on the internet. After reading the story, Airforce Master Sgt. Mark Cusimano reached out to Teresa and told her he never knew her father, but had been honoring him for the past 22 years. Master Sgt. Cusimano has been wearing a bracelet with Tech Sgt. Phillips name and information on it for all these years.

Teresa described the emotions she felt when she was contacted by Cusimano, "Mark has kept the memory of my dad alive and he didn't even know him."

Teresa will get to meet Mark and his family at Friday's "Welcome Home" ceremony.

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