MILITARY

Defense secretary, congressional leaders mark Vietnam War, hail veterans at Capitol ceremony

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter, leads applause to thank the military service members who served in Vietnam during a ceremony to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 8, 2015.  (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

    Defense Secretary Ash Carter, leads applause to thank the military service members who served in Vietnam during a ceremony to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 8, 2015. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)  (The Associated Press)

  • House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, speaks during a ceremony to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 8, 2015.  (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

    House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, speaks during a ceremony to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 8, 2015. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)  (The Associated Press)

  • Former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, speaks about his experiences as a soldier fighting in Vietnam, during a ceremony to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 8, 2015.  (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

    Former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, speaks about his experiences as a soldier fighting in Vietnam, during a ceremony to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 8, 2015. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)  (The Associated Press)

Defense Secretary Ash Carter and congressional leaders are thanking Vietnam War veterans for their service and presenting pins to dozens of veterans at a Capitol ceremony.

House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell joined lawmakers at a ceremony Wednesday marking 50 years since U.S. ground troops arrived in Vietnam.

The ceremony comes a day after President Barack Obama held an unprecedented meeting with the head of Vietnam's Communist Party as the U.S. presses to conclude talks on a groundbreaking Asia-Pacific economic pact.

Former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, himself a Vietnam veteran, told the Capitol crowd that he and other veterans feel a special bond. Hagel adds that he is grateful that the nation's attitude toward veterans has greatly improved since he returned from Vietnam.