Author Topic: Vietnam Veterans  (Read 1531 times)

Noe

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Vietnam Veterans
« on: November 11, 2011, 12:20:15 pm »
Prior to watching the current series on the History Channel, "Vietnam in Color/HD", I was thinking about this while studying the writings of Col. Hal Moore (now Ret. General Hal Moore) and others.  Of course, at the epicenter of reading is Hal Moore and Joe Galloway's book "We Were Soldiers Once... and Young".  I own the movie and like the acting and intensity, even though the ending is pure Hollywood.  The book is better, and of course there are deleted scenes that would have added intensity and emotion to the movie that also would have made it a very long movie too.  

All this is to say that Vietnam was the war that I grew up with.  Vietnam is an enigmatic, strange war because of the many facets of that conflict.  In fact, no one can agree to call it a war and will fall on the politically correct use of "conflict".  I could care less about the politics of the Vietnam War right now though, although I understand that even for a veteran of that war, there is need to understand why we were even over there and such.  Understood indeed.  What has been very much at the forefront of my thoughts reading and studying the Vietnam war is the men who fought over there.  Before I go any further, I'd like to share one thing.

I did not go to fight in Vietnam.  I knew of many who did, both family and friends.  I read many of the names of those I knew on the Vietnam Memorial when I visited Washington D.C. last summer.  By the time I was to graduate from High School, President Nixon had already pulled out our troops from Vietnam and then a few short years later, ended the draft.  I remember walking into the school counselor's office several days after I turned 18 and asking her to give me the papers I needed to fill out to register for the draft.  "Son, there is no more draft" she replied, with a look that I will never forget.  The look said to me "Why?", as if I was some dumb kid who did not understand how horrible Vietnam was.  Over the next several years, that became the norm for anyone who talked about 'Nam.  Those who were veterans of the war though never said a thing, they kept to themselves.

Many years later I realized that the veterans of Vietnam were never treated with respect or the dignity we as Americans would give to anyone else who would fight for our freedom.  In fact, I learned how unprepared we were as a society to welcome war (or scenes of war) into our very living rooms through the news reports.  And we were driven, as a society, to blame the very men who fought.  And they took it, perhaps not very well, but they did.  And this lead to a whole bunch of guys not that much older than me to think about their own existence and purpose, as both Americans and humans.  As I remember back to those days in the late 70s, I shudder how these veterans were treated.  One of the proudest moments I've experienced was going to go listen to Dave Roever speak.  I had heard of him before and I asked my wife if she would come with me as I was compelled to go hear him speak.  I wanted to be there and listen to his story.  Sure it was a good old fashion Christian revival and I liked it.  But what I really wanted to hear is his talk about his experiences as a Vietnam vet.  And the room was packed with many guys a little older than me and I knew many of them were veterans of Vietnam.  After talking for a few minutes, Dave had us all living with him in the jungle with the stress and anxiety of being in the middle of war.  At just the right moment, he stopped speaking and said "If you're a Vietnam Veteran, please stand up".

About half the room stood up.  All around me were veterans of Vietnam.  Dave said "Guys, you were never given the proper welcome home you deserved.... we're going to fix that right now... "Welcome Home brothers!" And at that, we all stood up and gave them all a standing ovation and I went and hugged several of them near me and thanked them.  I had never hugged a man crying with such emotion as I did that night.  The trembling as the emotions overwhelmed us both was inexplicable.  I was feeling much relief and of course, this Veteran finally felt a little bit more.... human.

So today, I want to take time to say thank you and welcome home to all my brothers who fought in Vietnam.  Welcome home indeed.
« Last Edit: November 11, 2011, 12:29:57 pm by Noe in Austin »

EasTexAstro

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Re: Vietnam Veterans
« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2011, 12:34:15 pm »
Nice.
It's my estimation that every man ever got a statue made of 'em was one kinda sombitch or another.

headhunter

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Re: Vietnam Veterans
« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2011, 02:39:59 pm »



  Those who were veterans of the war though never said a thing, they kept to themselves.


super classy Noe. Like you I am not a veteran but my family is full of them. I called my dad yesterday and wished him happy Marine corps birthday. I think that Fathers' day is his favorite, but getting a call during the military holidays means a whole lot too. Taking the time to say thanks to the Veterans in your life means an awful lot them.   

My dad served in the Marines in Vietnam in 70. Senator Jim Webb of Virginia wrote a novel that fictionalizes Webb's experience in Vietnam, Fields of Fire. Webb and Dad both happened to patrol the exact same terrain doing the same job during the war, just a couple years apart. Anyway its the work of fiction that my Dad says best captures the experience of the war he knew.
Among the numerous indignities, the thing that probably bothers my Dad the most is when people make false claims of having served or embellish their military record. He really likes this book about the dishonorable treatment of Vietnam Veterans: http://www.stolenvalor.com/book.cfm

Also, a problem for my Dad and a lot of Vets like him is that they can't even go to groups of Vietnam Veterans to find someone to talk about it. Apparently those groups are full of guys who were enlisted in the Vietnam era but weren't in Nam, or were in country but never saw combat. The men who saw a lot of combat, and some like my father saw it almost everyday, are uncomfortable around the guys who didn't. Though he's never said it, I know the people he really wants to talk to are dead.
 
On a positive note, I have a lot of active-duty/recently discharged family members and they don't think they are being mistreated by the general public/media. We, as a country, still have a long way to go towards helping all the Veterans who need it, but I think its getting better. I think that applauding the Veterans like you did is fantastic.
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Re: Vietnam Veterans
« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2011, 02:54:59 pm »
This is one of the few times a year I post.  I've been in the Air Force going on 14 years and right now I'm deployed to Turkey.  Launched a few airplanes this morning and then came inside to do the paperwork (The whole "job's not done till the paperwork's done" thing) and while checking my email - I definitely felt appreciated.  It took longer to read the emails from cousins and friends I don't talk to near as much as I should than it did to do actual work and I ended up leaving late for lunch.  So I want to say thank you.  We do feel it over here.

And also - Fuck the cubs.

And also - Double fuck bud selig.  Right into his ear.

Noe

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Re: Vietnam Veterans
« Reply #4 on: November 11, 2011, 02:57:02 pm »
HH,

It was in 1987, but I remember that night oh so well.  I wanted to hear Dave Roever speak because I felt so conflicted if you will.  I grew up seeing my cousins and uncles go off to war in Vietnam and I knew I was to be next in line soon.  And then it ended.  The men I remember also played baseball for my Dad.  Some of them were good players, guys like "Froggy" and "Pony" (that was the nickname I knew them by).  When my Dad just abruptly me told me one day that "Froggy died in Vietnam", just a matter of factly like that... I was shocked and my small world of things that mattered most, like baseball and having fun, were met with realities of life and death. I did not know what "going off to 'Nam to fight a war" really meant and I didn't know how I really felt about not being there myself because it had all ended.  I know all war is hell, but these were people I knew and people I came to admire.

I needed to go hear and not shy away or let anyone else cloud the picture for me about Vietnam any more.  I needed to know and Roever was willing to speak about it.  And I got a lot more than I bargained for that night and so did everyone else in attendance.  I remember the lack of fear these men showed in standing up because maybe, for once, they felt safe amongst those like them.  I was glad I was there and I was proud that everyone felt the same that these men needed to be honored and we were not giving them the respect they deserved.

Thanks for the heads up on the book, comes at a great time as I am going through tons of reading right now about this very subject!

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Vietnam Veterans
« Reply #5 on: November 11, 2011, 02:57:53 pm »
I could care less about the politics of the Vietnam War right now though, although I understand that even for a veteran of that war, there is need to understand why we were even over there and such.  Understood indeed.  What has been very much at the forefront of my thoughts reading and studying the Vietnam war is the men who fought over there.

Noe -
An interesting area of further study might be the myths about Vietnam veterans and how those myths were propagated and reinforced (sometimes cynically and dishonestly) by the media and popular culture.
Among those myths are that Vietnam vets were less educated, less advantaged socially and more prone to unemployment, criminal conduct, mental illness, alcoholism, drug addiction and homelessness. Unfortunately, Vietnam veterans are/were more prone to suicide but only slightly more than the general population.
Other myths:
1. The war was fought by draftees who sufferd the large majority of the casualties. 70% of the KIAs in Viet Nam were volunteers. 70% of US KIAs in World War II were draftees.
2. Minorites sufferd a disproportionate number of casualties. 12% of KIAS were black. 11% of the US population from 1960-1980 was black.

  
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geezerdonk

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Vietnam Veterans
« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2011, 03:04:16 pm »
If you want to know what ground combat in Viet Nam was like, read Fields of Fire. It doesn't get any more realistic. The book bogs down during stateside character development and R&R tales but if you stay with it you will be rewarded.
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Noe

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Re: Vietnam Veterans
« Reply #7 on: November 11, 2011, 03:06:38 pm »
Noe -
An interesting area of further study might be the myths about Vietnam veterans and how those myths were propagated and reinforced (sometimes cynically and dishonestly) by the media and popular culture.
Among those myths are that Vietnam vets were less educated, less advantaged socially and more prone to unemployment, criminal conduct, mental illness, alcoholism, drug addiction and homelessness. Unfortunately, Vietnam veterans are/were more prone to suicide but only slightly more than the general population.
Other myths:
1. The war was fought by draftees who sufferd the large majority of the casualties. 70% of the KIAs in Viet Nam were volunteers. 70% of US KIAs in World War II were draftees.
2. Minorites sufferd a disproportionate number of casualties. 12% of KIAS were black. 11% of the US population from 1960-1980 was black.

  

Outstanding GD, thanks for this!

geezerdonk

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Vietnam Veterans
« Reply #8 on: November 11, 2011, 03:25:43 pm »
Also, a problem for my Dad and a lot of Vets like him is that they can't even go to groups of Vietnam Veterans to find someone to talk about it. Apparently those groups are full of guys who were enlisted in the Vietnam era but weren't in Nam, or were in country but never saw combat. The men who saw a lot of combat, and some like my father saw it almost everyday, are uncomfortable around the guys who didn't.

This is a problem but there are solutions - one example is small unit (company or battalion) get togethers where everybody knows just about everybody. These are becoming more common as the vets reach retirement age and the internet offers more resources. Likewise, there are growing resources for exposing phonies. I think that the guy who wrote Stolen Valor has a web site devoted to this.
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Re: Vietnam Veterans
« Reply #9 on: November 11, 2011, 03:30:36 pm »
i am of the age where nam was front page every day do i know someone who got killed today.  i can not even begin to imagine the horrors of war but i  do know how my friends came back changed and were never the same.
you  can never say thank you enough to any service man or woman but those who served in Viet Nam have a special place
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Re: Vietnam Veterans
« Reply #10 on: November 11, 2011, 04:12:31 pm »
super classy Noe. Like you I am not a veteran but my family is full of them. I called my dad yesterday and wished him happy Marine corps birthday. I think that Fathers' day is his favorite, but getting a call during the military holidays means a whole lot too. Taking the time to say thanks to the Veterans in your life means an awful lot them.   

My dad served in the Marines in Vietnam in 70. Senator Jim Webb of Virginia wrote a novel that fictionalizes Webb's experience in Vietnam, Fields of Fire. Webb and Dad both happened to patrol the exact same terrain doing the same job during the war, just a couple years apart. Anyway its the work of fiction that my Dad says best captures the experience of the war he knew.
Among the numerous indignities, the thing that probably bothers my Dad the most is when people make false claims of having served or embellish their military record. He really likes this book about the dishonorable treatment of Vietnam Veterans: http://www.stolenvalor.com/book.cfm

Also, a problem for my Dad and a lot of Vets like him is that they can't even go to groups of Vietnam Veterans to find someone to talk about it. Apparently those groups are full of guys who were enlisted in the Vietnam era but weren't in Nam, or were in country but never saw combat. The men who saw a lot of combat, and some like my father saw it almost everyday, are uncomfortable around the guys who didn't. Though he's never said it, I know the people he really wants to talk to are dead.
 
On a positive note, I have a lot of active-duty/recently discharged family members and they don't think they are being mistreated by the general public/media. We, as a country, still have a long way to go towards helping all the Veterans who need it, but I think its getting better. I think that applauding the Veterans like you did is fantastic.
Good post.  As a "Vietnam Era Veteran" who spent four years drinking beer in Germany, I always get real quiet this time of year.  I appreciate the sentiment when someone says "thanks for serving", and I really did serve.  But it was nothing like the guys I knew who served in 'Nam.  N.O.T.H.I.N.G.  Every one of those guys is a hero in my book.

And on a related note, i will add "Fields of Fire" to my reading list, and will recommend "We Were Soldiers Once, and Young".  (The movie is good, but the book is better.)
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Re: Vietnam Veterans
« Reply #11 on: November 11, 2011, 06:21:40 pm »
Good post.  As a "Vietnam Era Veteran" who spent four years drinking beer in Germany, I always get real quiet this time of year.  I appreciate the sentiment when someone says "thanks for serving", and I really did serve.  But it was nothing like the guys I knew who served in 'Nam.  N.O.T.H.I.N.G.  Every one of those guys is a hero in my book.

And on a related note, i will add "Fields of Fire" to my reading list, and will recommend "We Were Soldiers Once, and Young".  (The movie is good, but the book is better.)
Thanks for serving Virtual Bob.
I believe that all of you who served during that era deserve the same apology, and the same respect. I have not read or heard anywhere that the Jane Fonda's of the world saved their scorn only for those who fought in Vietnam. My impression is that Veterans were generally slandered in the Media.  Service men and women don't have much choice in what burdens their nation puts upon them. They serve.

I have several Uncles who are Vietnam Era Veterans (including one who served in Germany as a medic) but not combat veterans, and I know that my father, for one, respects every one of them.
One thing that I've noticed is that no matter how "easy" an MOS, service is hard. It's hard on military members; it's hard on their families. My Uncle who served in Germany fell in love with a German girl, married her, and moved her back with him to the states. She got homesick, moved back, and he followed. But he could never get any kind of decent work in Germany and they divorced and he came back to the States heartbroken. He never married or fell in love again. So, yeah, no one ever shot at him (at least while he wore a uniform), but serving sure didn't make his life any easier.
Again, thank you for your service, Sir.
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Re: Vietnam Veterans
« Reply #12 on: November 26, 2018, 07:44:28 am »
I have nearly completed Ken Burns' highly touted documentary "The Vietnam War".  I'm through episode 7, which brings me up to May 1969.  It's an amazing piece of work.  What a damning indictment of short-sighted (and, in one case, treasonous) leadership; what an amazing testament to the bravery of regular people.  What a complete and utter tragedy for anyone caught up in it.
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Re: Vietnam Veterans
« Reply #13 on: November 26, 2018, 08:10:25 am »
I have nearly completed Ken Burns' highly touted documentary "The Vietnam War".  I'm through episode 7, which brings me up to May 1969.  It's an amazing piece of work.  What a damning indictment of short-sighted (and, in one case, treasonous) leadership; what an amazing testament to the bravery of regular people.  What a complete and utter tragedy for anyone caught up in it.
I thought it was very good. Oliver Stone's History of America, not so good but an interesting watch.
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geezerdonk

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Vietnam Veterans
« Reply #14 on: November 26, 2018, 01:10:31 pm »
Anyone interested in details of the day to day life of a combat soldier in Viet Nam should read two books by Karl Marlantes; one fiction, one non-fiction - Matterhorn and What It Is Like to Go to War. Marlantes served in various capacities as an officer in a USMC rifle company in 69-70.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2018, 01:14:16 pm by geezerdonk »
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Re: Vietnam Veterans
« Reply #15 on: November 26, 2018, 01:45:48 pm »
Anyone interested in details of the day to day life of a combat soldier in Viet Nam should read two books by Karl Marlantes; one fiction, one non-fiction - Matterhorn and What It Is Like to Go to War. Marlantes served in various capacities as an officer in a USMC rifle company in 69-70.

I'm interested in that.  Marlantes is also heavily interviewed for Burns' documentary.  IIRC, he was a Rhodes Scholar and on deferment at Oxford University; he cut it short to go to war because he felt that it was wrong that someone else was going to have to go in his place.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2018, 01:53:12 pm by Limey »
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Re: Vietnam Veterans
« Reply #16 on: November 26, 2018, 11:18:21 pm »
I have nearly completed Ken Burns' highly touted documentary "The Vietnam War".  I'm through episode 7, which brings me up to May 1969.  It's an amazing piece of work.  What a damning indictment of short-sighted (and, in one case, treasonous) leadership; what an amazing testament to the bravery of regular people.  What a complete and utter tragedy for anyone caught up in it.

I just finished all 10 episodes. When I got to episode 6 and 7, I had to stop and ask my dad about a couple of facts (his second tour there was as a ranger company commander in and around Hue during the Tet Offensive) and we proceeded to talk about his time there over the phone for the next 4 hours.  That’s what I appreciated the most about the documentary; it allowed me to have a thoughtful, informed discussion with my dad that provided the foundation for transparency about that time unlike any he and I had shared previously.
Another trenchant comment by a jealous lesser intellect.

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Re: Vietnam Veterans
« Reply #17 on: November 27, 2018, 09:51:53 am »
I just finished all 10 episodes. When I got to episode 6 and 7, I had to stop and ask my dad about a couple of facts (his second tour there was as a ranger company commander in and around Hue during the Tet Offensive) and we proceeded to talk about his time there over the phone for the next 4 hours.  That’s what I appreciated the most about the documentary; it allowed me to have a thoughtful, informed discussion with my dad that provided the foundation for transparency about that time unlike any he and I had shared previously.

That is very cool.
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Re: Vietnam Veterans
« Reply #18 on: November 27, 2018, 09:53:25 am »
I just finished all 10 episodes. When I got to episode 6 and 7, I had to stop and ask my dad about a couple of facts (his second tour there was as a ranger company commander in and around Hue during the Tet Offensive) and we proceeded to talk about his time there over the phone for the next 4 hours.  That’s what I appreciated the most about the documentary; it allowed me to have a thoughtful, informed discussion with my dad that provided the foundation for transparency about that time unlike any he and I had shared previously.

Awesome.
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