"Idaho is very reverent and respectful of the military. It's one of the main reasons I moved up here," says J.D. Poss, Chapter Vice President of Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 1025. He helped lead the effort to raise $117,000 for a new memorial dedicated to the 217 Idahoans that died in the Vietnam War.
The memorial was a grassroots effort, funded by the private sector. "We sold bumper stickers and Vietnam War memorabilia at the mall," Poss recalled.
Poss served in the First Cavalry Division, the same in which the first Idahoan casualty of the Vietnam War died. Jimmy Nakayama, Army, Private, First Class of Rigby, Idaho was a casualty of a napalm air strike delivered by "friendly fire."
Poss says coming home from Vietnam was difficult when people disrespected veterans, he says, to the point that even vets would deny their own service.
He says he's glad things are changing for the better. "Now I see guys walking around in uniform and I see strangers walking up and saying hey, thanks for service. I'm glad to see that turn."