HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — National Vietnam War Veterans Day, March 29, 1973, marks the 50th anniversary of the last U.S. combat troops that departed South Vietnam.

On Wednesday, the Harlingen VA Outpatient Clinic held a somber ceremony to mark the milestone and honor those who served.

The war, which lasted a decade for the United States, took the lives of more than 58,000 American servicemen, about 2,200 Texans died and nearly 150 of them were from the Rio Grande Valley.

There were three million Americans who served during the war and over 850,000 are still alive.

At the ceremony, veterans were surrounded by family and friends.

“We sponsored this event because we’re proud of what we did in Vietnam, for our country, and we’re proud to be veterans,” said Samuel Cardenas, Vietnam War veteran. 

Among those who served our country was Manny Flores, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps for 40 years.

He is known by many in the community and while many were there to honor his sacrifice, he was there to honor those that were lost.

“I’ll never forget, I’ll never forget why I went there. It was not only me, there were other people. It’s emotional because of the people that were lost,” Flores said. 

His wife Angie Flores said her brother also fought in the war. She said it was a difficult time for her family.

“It’s hard, but just to have him here. It’s a blessing in itself,” she said.

This was the first time the Harlingen VA Outpatient Clinic hosted and honored Vietnam Veterans in a ceremony.