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Vietnam veterans honored before Game 2

MLB.com @alysonfooter

LOS ANGELES -- For years, ballplayers across the big leagues have championed causes that benefit those who have served in the United States military. Some host meet-and-greets for veterans on game days. Others raise funds for those who have served and are in need of financial assistance.

Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner, for example, guides portions of the proceeds raised by his foundation to homeless veterans. Astros pitcher Justin Verlander's Wins for Warriors program aims to assist veterans and their families, and this year, he's donating his entire postseason share to veterans impacted by Hurricane Harvey.

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LOS ANGELES -- For years, ballplayers across the big leagues have championed causes that benefit those who have served in the United States military. Some host meet-and-greets for veterans on game days. Others raise funds for those who have served and are in need of financial assistance.

Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner, for example, guides portions of the proceeds raised by his foundation to homeless veterans. Astros pitcher Justin Verlander's Wins for Warriors program aims to assist veterans and their families, and this year, he's donating his entire postseason share to veterans impacted by Hurricane Harvey.

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On a national scale, Major League Baseball has established many traditions over time to honor the military. Most teams recognize individual members of the military at every home game and donate tickets to groups of veterans throughout the season.

On Wednesday, Major League Baseball honored local Vietnam veterans during the ceremony prior to the Astros' 7-6 win over the Dodgers in 11 innings in Game 2 of the World Series presented by YouTube TV, which evened the series at 1-1. The recognition was part of the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration, which began on Memorial Day 2012, and concludes on Veterans Day 2025.

Six Vietnam veterans, all California natives, were honored on the field at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday:

Col. Jay Vargas (San Diego), a Marine Corps veteran awarded the Medal of Honor, Silver Star, Purple Heart and Combat Action Ribbon; Staff Sgt. Bill Hutton (Thousand Oaks), a Marine Corps veteran and recipient of Silver Star and Purple Hearts; Capt. Jon Williams (Camarillo) of the United States Army and recipient of Silver Star, Bronze Star and Purple Hearts; Capt. Charlie Plumb (Westlake Village) of the U.S. Navy, who spent six years as a POW and earned Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star and Purple Hearts; Col. Jerry Knotts (Ventura County) of the U.S. Air Force who was an F-4 fighter pilot for 112 combat missions; and Sgt. Roy Gleason (Temecula) of the U.S. Army and recipient of the Purple Heart.

Gleason played briefly with the 1963 World Series champion Dodgers, appearing in eight games, mostly as a pinch-runner. He was drafted into the military in 1967 and served combat duty with the Army. Gleason is the last Major League player to receive the Purple Heart.

The group was brought onto the field for special recognition during an emotional pregame ceremony that included the presentation of colors by Marines from the Marine Corps Recruiting Los Angeles Metro Station, and a flyover by the U.S. Navy.

"We're not really being honored ourselves," Hutton said. "We're representing all those who served in Vietnam, in all branches of the service. I feel grateful and humbled to be able to do that."

Hutton commended Major League Baseball for its efforts in working with and honoring the military, citing Turner's work as an example of the strong alliance between the two.

"They raised the bar," Hutton said. "When you get people like Justin Turner, such a veteran advocate -- for someone to take that kind of time to show that kind of respect, it's appreciated."

Vargas, who as a young man played briefly in the Dodgers' Minor League system, expressed gratitude for MLB reaching out to this group of veterans in particular.

"What they're doing is probably a first in Major League Baseball, or any sport, where they really honor the Vietnam veterans," he said. "We're still very proud of what we did. We're very pleased. I'm very honored to have served our nation in Vietnam. We did well."

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.