Vietnam vet Richard ‘Dick’ Mullen to get the welcome home he deserved

Richard Wayne “Dick” Mullen was idolized by his family. He grew up during the 1950s and early 1960s in the Fairmount neighborhood near Wichita State University in a time when everybody knew everybody. He learned early what it was like to feel a passion for his country – and why he felt a responsibility to become a Marine and fight in Vietnam. Then, after earning a Silver Star, Purple Heart and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Palms, he came home to a country that didn’t care or want to know about the blood and death he had witnessed. Mr. Mullen died April 8 in Vonore, Tenn., following complications after a fall. He was 69 years old. At a military graveside service at 2 p.m. today at the Wichita Park Cemetery, 3424 E. 21st St., his three siblings will give him the welcome home they think he deserved but never got. At the service, the Marine Corps will fold an American flag and present it to the family. Taps will be played, followed by a gun salute. The American Legion Riders will be present. “I grew up in the ’60s, and I saw the people who protested against the war and who were against the soldiers,” said Jay Mullen, the youngest of the Mullen brothers. “What they didn’t realize was that the soldier was not a diplomat. He was ordered to do a job and he does it – and is awarded to the degree that he does it. … “Unlike the heroes of today who serve in Afghanistan and Iraq and come home heroes and are welcomed by everybody, the Vietnam heroes were forgotten.” “Dick is a man who did what so few guys did during his time,” said Bob Mullen, another brother and a highly decorated Vietnam vet himself. “He went to war. He was one of the ones who suffered and suffered for years afterward. But as much as anybody did, he lived a life of sharing and caring for all the people around him.” Mr. Mullen was born April 28, 1942, at St. Francis Hospital in Wichita.

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