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Heroes from the past offer thanks to heroes of today

Vietnam veterans thanked Virginia Beach police for their service.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Thanksgiving is all about expressing gratitude.

Some local military veterans did that very thing on Wednesday, saying thanks with a modest but meaningful gesture.

They let local police officers know that they are appreciated.

It's a case of heroes from the past saying thanks to heroes of the present.

Members of Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 969, and, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 392, and the Rotary Club went around from one Virginia Beach police precinct to another, bearing gifts: snacks.

Five decades after serving their country on the other side of the world, these vets wanted to serve their community, by honoring the officers who protect them here at home.

"We never got a welcome home when we came back from Vietnam," said Navy veteran Steve Williams, Veterans Assistance Officer for Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 969. "We want to make sure they have a welcome back right now."

Phil Wellman served in the Army during the Vietnam War.

He said: "These guys need our respect. They need our appreciation. And this is just a very small token way of doing that."

Vietnam-era veteran and Rotary Club member Neal Kaplan agrees.

"And you've got say thank you in some way to let them know, it's a tough job, somebody's got to do, and they're the ones doing it," he said.

The officers clearly were touched.

"Just to have somebody come up and say thank you for your service, it means everything," said SGT M. Tuttle of the Second Precinct.

Master Police Officer David Shoenbach of the Third Precinct felt the same way.

"The fact that they appreciate us, we appreciate them a lot more," he said. "They've done so much for this country. All the veterans. It's humbling for them to come here and do something for us. It's fantastic."

The vets said they've done this, on their own, once a month, for about the past six months.

They invite any other service organization in town that might like to participate, to join them.