2 Vietnam Veterans honored, remembered at ceremony - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

2 Vietnam Veterans honored, remembered at ceremony

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The Vietnam Veterans America event will be at 1 p.m. at the Veterans Memorial in downtown Huntsville. The Vietnam Veterans America event will be at 1 p.m. at the Veterans Memorial in downtown Huntsville.
HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) -

On Saturday, the Huntsville chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America will remember the end of America's involvement in the Vietnam War. The group will hold an event to honor and celebrate veterans.

This will be the 3rd year of the event, but this year the group will present awards to local veterans. One of the awards is named after TSgt Elbert Austin Phillips. His is classified as both missing and killed in action. His plane went down in 1968 in Laos. His body has never been recovered.

His daughter, Teresa Schmitt, was only 8-years-old when her father's plane went down, but she remembers his life of service. "It was his life. He loved serving his country and he loved serving others," said Schmitt.

TSgt E.A. Phillips proved his love of service to others up to the very end. According to Teresa, "His mission was to be, to help the Laotians be more self-sufficient in teaching them medicine and how to care for each other."

The mission would end in tragedy though, when on his way back to Thailand from Laos, his plane went down. Teresa describes the search that followed, "All of their efforts to try and find any parts of the plane or the bodies was fruitless."

While Teresa's father never came home, the spirit of his service lives on in others, like retired Command Sergeant Major Charlie Miller. He will be the first person to receive the TSgt E.A. Phillips Humanitarian Award on Saturday. "It appears that Mr. Miller is of the same servant's heart that my father was," said Schmitt.

In many ways, Charlie Miller and TSgt Phillips are alike. "He was in Laos and I had the opportunity to serve in Laos as well and that's where his aircraft went down at and by the grace of God it wasn't me," said Miller.

Both men committed their lives to service of both country and others. Miller remarks, "For what good is a man if he can't serve mankind?"

While TSgt Phillips gave the ultimate sacrifice, his service lives on in others through the humanitarian award named in his honor. Charlie Miller will be the first person to receive the award for both his time in Vietnam and his continued service in the community. Miller spends most of his time working with homeless veterans. "I provide water, council. Of course, we all from Vietnam are in our golden years," said Miller.

Miller is said he is honored to receive the award. "I'm so undeserving of something like this." As for the family of TSgt Phillips, they're just happy their father's legacy lives on. Filled with emotion, Teresa Schmitt said, "This award really, they say we'll never forget and it just makes us truly believe that."

TSgt Phillips' family will present Charlie Miller with the award at Saturday's Vietnam Veterans America event will be at 1 p.m. at the Veterans Memorial in downtown Huntsville.

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