When U.S. troops arrived in San Francisco after fighting in the Vietnam War, they were met by angry Americans.

"We were called baby killers. People spit on us as we walked by," recalled Jim Pack, an Erath County commissioner and former Navy Lt. Commander.

It was not the homecoming soldiers expected in the early 1970s, but that's the reality many of them faced.

Today, local leaders are standing up against the unpleasant welcome the nation's service men and women received all those years ago.

They are recognizing Wednesday as Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day designated by the U.S. Senate earlier this month.

"I encourage all citizens in Erath County and across the country to thank our veterans for their service to our country and their duty during that conflict," Erath County Judge Tab Thompson said Monday during a commissioner's court meeting. "Our veterans have long-deserved a proper homecoming."

Americans of all ages answered the call of duty in Vietnam from 1955-75.

There are more than 750 Vietnam-era veterans in Erath County representing all branches of the military, according to the Texas Veterans Commission.

Pack's years of service began in 1968 as a communications specialist in mobile combat hospitals. After completing his tour in August 1970, he joined the Navy Reserves and retired after 35 years of service.

Among his most memorable moments was setting up hospitals in places like Tailand and South Africa.

"We saw children that were seven or eight years old receive eyeglasses and clearly see the world around them for the first time," Pack said. "Those experiences were very fulfilling."