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MJ to celebrate 'Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day'

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He told his mom before he deployed to Vietnam in 1966 to serve in the Army, "If anyone shows up at the front door, it probably isn't good news."

When that knock came, and Mrs. Sellers saw a Western Union Telegram deliveryman, she slammed the door in his face and refused to open it again. Her husband came back from a quick run to the store and found the deliveryman still on his stoop.

"It ended up being bad news, but not the worse possible news," the mother's son, Will Sellers, said this week.

Will had been seriously wounded in a mortar attack, but he was still alive. The telegram conveyed this news.

Sellers, a former Mt. Juliet city commissioner and local animal advocate, served in the Army from 1966 to 1969. He served in the Vietnam War 1967-1968.

Ceremony set to honor Vietnam Veterans Recognition Day

Sellers and other local veterans in the Tyler Cates Mt. Juliet American Legion Post 281 have planned a tribute ceremony in honor of "Vietnam Veterans Recognition Day" on April 9 at Charlie Daniels Park at 11 a.m.

There are over 200 members in the post, he said.

"There are countless numbers of veterans in Wilson County, many Vietnam veterans," he said.

And while the official recognition day was March 30, organizers planned around a special guest's appearance and delayed the tribute a bit.

In 2012 President Barack Obama declared March 30 as a day for the nation to thank those who served in one of the most divisive conflicts in America's history. On March 29, 1973, the last U.S. troops left Vietnam, ending 11 years of war that saw 58,000 Americans killed.

"It was very difficult coming back from Vietnam and being treated the way we were," he said.

And while the special guest ended up being booked elsewhere in a scheduling conflict, Sellers said the event would be a unique salute to not only Vietnam War veterans, but also all veterans.

"Beginning at 10 a.m. the 40-piece 129th U.S. Army National Guard band will begin to perform," he said. "It will be quite emotional."

Fellow Vietnam War veteran and former Wilson County Sheriff Terry Ashe will give opening remarks, followed by a full program of speakers including Congresswoman Diane Black, Sen. Mae Beavers, State Rep. Susan Lynn, Mt. Juliet Mayor Ed Hagerty and city commissioners. Sellers said there will be "Taps" played for the POW's and MIA's.

"A very special part of the ceremony will be keynote speaker Dr. David Black (Diane Black's husband and Vietnam veteran) reading the names of Tennessee's POW/MIA's," Sellers said.

After each name a bell will ring.

Purple Heart

April 2, 1968, is a day Sellers will never forget. He had been in his company nine months, and the Tet Offensive was in full swing. Their base camp had already endured 70 or more mortar attacks. That night he was with about four of his comrades when the first mortar of that night landed.

"We looked at each other and said 'that was close,'" Sellers recalled.

The next one came in and exploded about 10 feet away. Shrapnel injured them all. Sellers was able to get to a nearby road and flag down help. He was transported to the nearest MASH unit. He suffered shrapnel wounds in his neck, back, shoulder and chest.

Three weeks later he was sent back to his unit.

"Yes, I have a purple heart," he said quietly.

Sellers said the post members hope to make the welcome home event an annual venue. He said he has no idea how many people will show up, but he hopes people will take a little time to say "welcome home" to local Vietnam War veterans.

"Sadly, it's a long time coming, but never too late." he said.

Writer Laurie Everett can be contacted at laurieeverett1@gmail.com.

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event, honored, Mt. Juliet, veterans, Vietnam War, Will Sellars, Wilson County
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