(AP) The last U.S. combat troops left Vietnam 40 years ago Friday, and the date holds great meaning for many who fought the war, protested it or otherwise lived it.
While the fall of Saigon two years later is remembered as the final day of the Vietnam War, many had already seen their involvement in the war finished - and their lives altered - by March 29, 1973.
U.S. soldiers leaving the country feared angry protesters at home. North Vietnamese soldiers took heart from their foes' departure, and South Vietnamese who had helped the Americans feared for the future.
Many veterans are encouraged by changes they see. The U.S. has a volunteer military these days, not a draft, and the troops coming home aren't derided for their service. People know what PTSD stands for, and they're insisting that the government takes care of soldiers suffering from it and other injuries from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Below are the stories of a few of the people who experienced a part of the Vietnam War firsthand.