Seventy two sailors, Marines and soldiers from Winnebago County were killed in the Vietnam War.
Veterans raised flags in their honor at the L-Z Peace Memorial in Rockford. They also commemorated the one year anniversary of the memorial. The veterans shared stories about friends who were killed during the war. They also honored three gold star mothers.
The women all have sons from Winnebago County who died in Vietnam. The surviving veterans say their experiences there still bond them together and impact their lives now.
"It's in your heart. You can never forget. You can move along, but you can never forget," said John Bates.
The Vietnam veterans say the ceremony was also in honor of the soldiers who are fighting in Iraq and those who will never make it home. Two of the founders of the second largest Vietnam veterans group in the country attended the service.
Nick Parnello and Joseph Falzone both started Vietnow while they were fighting overseas. The two met in South Vietnam and promised each other that if they made it out alive they would meet again in the United States. They asked people to join in Rockford and Vietnow eventually grew to a nation wide veterans group.
Parnello is no longer the leader of Vietnow. Instead he is in charge of the Vietnam Veterans’ Honor Society.