Married Vietnam Vets Share Their Story at Memorial Day Parade

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COLUMBIA - Jessica and Joe Giacchi, married Vietnam veterans, were among those in attendance at Monday's Salute to Veterans Parade.

When Jessica Giacchi joined the military in the 1960s, it was about adventure.

"I wanted to see the world, but I didn't even have a clue about Vietnam."

She was stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas, where she met her husband, Joe Giacchi, in 1969, after he returned from his own deployment to Vietnam.

Then it was her turn to go abroad.

"She got orders to go to Vietnam," Joe Giacchi said, "So, she went to Vietnam, '69 to '70. That's when I proposed to her, while she was overseas."

Jessica Giacchi said, "He told me I had plenty of time to respond."

She said yes, via ham radio operator.

"I didn't wait, I wanted to marry him," she said.

The Giacchis served together nursing in the Army for several years. Monday, they had a chance to celebrate that service and remember their fallen comrades.

They joined a large crowd gathered downtown to see the parade that recognized U.S. military veterans and their families. 

Veterans waved to the crowd from vintage cars and new corvettes. The parade also included the Golden Knight Parachute team, which made its first visit to Columbia since 2003. 

Planes from this weekend's Salute to Veterans Air-show made several passes over the parade route during the event.

Jessica Giacchi said of the remembrance, "It feels good".

Joe Giacchi called the parade "inspiring" and said he is glad to see those who served in Vietnam no longer being excluded.

"There was a lack of recognition for a long time," he said. "We have to remember all those that lost their lives in Vietnam. It was a terrible toll. This is the time to remember them."