YORBA LINDA, Calif. (KABC) -- A monument memorializing members of the U.S armed forces in the Vietnam War was dedicated Wednesday at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda.
On the 50th anniversary of the day the last U.S. combat troops departed Vietnam, dozens of veterans were honored.
The new monument depicting a soldier in war was commissioned by the Richard Nixon Foundation. It memorializes those who served.
Marine Corps veteran Russell Sanderson said he was wounded during an ambush. A Bible in his front pocket stopped a bullet from hitting his chest.
"We didn't see Vietnam as being a political war. We saw us fighting for our loved ones -- our families, for the United States and then for the freedoms of the people in North Vietnam," Sanderson said.
Sanderson said it took more than 35 years for someone to welcome him back home.
Grateful for the recognition Wednesday, Sanderson said our veterans need more of it.
"Something that we needed when we came home. That's why you see so much mental illness. That's why you see so many people with PTSD," Sanderson said.
After addressing guests during a ceremony, former Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie greeted each veteran, giving them, one by one, the national official Vietnam Veteran lapel pin.
Billy C. Hall was an Army helicopter pilot in the Vietnam War. He said he was glad his sacrifice and that of his brothers and sisters was not forgotten.
Hall has an answer ready when thanked for his service.
"You were worth it," Hall said, adding, "Now that you've thanked me for my service, I would like to thank you and your family for providing me with a country that was worth fighting for."
Throughout the U.S. on Wednesday, there were wreaths placed at seven different veterans memorials in honor of National Vietnam War Veterans Day.