American Indian Vietnam veterans honored at national gathering in Wheaton

About 30 Vietnam veterans were recognized Saturday in a ceremony at Cantigny Park in Wheaton during the seventh annual National Gathering of American Indian Veterans.

The three-day event honoring veterans and military personnel of all cultures, eras, and branches in a Native American way was presented by the Trickster Gallery.

“We are finally getting recognized,” said Raul Calvillo, a veteran from Villa Park. “People are now starting to understand what we went through.”

Calvillo, who is of Apache descent, served in the Army between 1968 and 1969 during the Vietnam War in the Duc Pho District. He was given a Vietnam veteran lapel pin by U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Schaumburg.

The commemorative pin, also called a “Welcome Home” pin, was created in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.

Former President Barack Obama signed a proclamation designating May 28, 2012, through Nov. 11, 2025, as a time to recognize Vietnam veterans and their service.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, more than nine million Americans served on active duty at some point during the conflict that started in 1955 and ended with U.S. Armed Forces leaving Vietnam in 1975.