Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans, and Thank You.

Rumor has it that the U.S. Senate has declared March 30, 2011, as Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day, to honor the 40th anniversary of the official withdrawal of U.S. combat forces from the Republic of Vietnam.

While to many this honorific comes 40 years too late, and from a source less than desirable, I say that we, the citizens of the United States, should take the opportunity of the belated recognition to express, again, what we have always felt; gratitude for what our nation’s best did for us. Duty called, and they answered resoundingly; fighting a tough war in a hellish environment against a determined and skilled foe. And they won, never once leaving the field of battle in defeat. In so doing they forged a legacy of valor and honor that my generation and my son’s generation stand in awe of. During my own service it was the goal of myself and every Marine I knew to live up to the standards they had set, to carry forward their legacy, and to make them half as proud of us as we were of them.

So allow me to again say to all of the veterans of the War in Southeast Asia, thank you, welcome home, job well done. And to offer my sincere apologies that an ungrateful nation has dishonored your sacrifice for far, far too long. God Bless You All.

I leave you with the words of Lt. Col. Carolyn Abell, US Army, Retired, lifted from an email sent to me by our esteemed LC Rurik, one of the vets so long deserving our thanks.

“*No event in American history is more misunderstood than the Vietnam War.
It was misreported then, and it is misremembered now. Rarely have so many
people been so wrong about so much. Never have the consequences of their
misunderstanding been so tragic.”* – Richard Nixon from his book, “No More
Vietnams”

Earlier this month the United States Senate declared March 30, 2011 as
“Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day.” This particular date was chosen because
on March 30, 1973, remaining U. S. troops withdrew from Vietnam under the
terms of the Treaty of Paris.

In a resolution introduced by Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina and
co-sponsored by five other senators, including Georgia’s Johnny Isakson, the
Senate is encouraging Americans across the country to recognize Vietnam
veterans for their sacrifice and to make them feel the gratitude of a
country that sent them to fight. “It’s time they receive the recognition
they have earned and deserve,” declared Senator Burr.

While Richard Nixon might have had his faults as President, the above
statement about the Vietnam War is spot on. Largely due to intentional
misreporting by anti-war press members, a number of myths and falsehoods
were generated and have continued to be perpetuated about this war and the
men who fought it.

Statistical evidence contradicts most of these lies. For one, the majority
of Vietnam veterans declare they are glad they served (91percent), with74
percent saying they would serve again, even knowing the outcome.

In contrast to the popular notion that a great number of Vietnam veterans
were drug users, a myth promoted by such movies as “Apocalypse Now,”
information from the Veterans’ Administration indicates that there is no
difference in drug usage between Vietnam veterans and non-veterans from the
same age group.

The few isolated atrocities committed by American servicemen were blown out
of proportion, causing the general public to wonder if they had evolved into
savage and inhumane beasts reminiscent of the degenerate boys in “Lord of
the Flies.” The truth is that while we had a few incidents, the North
Vietnamese routinely committed such atrocities against our side—a fact that
seldom got reported. Former service members such as Charles Henderson have
documented some of the most heinous acts of torture imaginable inflicted on
United States soldiers and Marines by a female North Vietnamese Captain,
whose cruel and deviant brutality earned her the nickname, “Apache Woman.”
Thanks to Carlos Hathcock, one of the most talented and self-disciplined
Marine snipers of all time, “Apache Woman” did not live to make Major.

A 97 percent rate of honorable discharges among Vietnam veterans should
quell any myths that they were largely lawless heathens.

According to a speech by Lt. Gen. Barry McCaffrey in 1993, 85 percent of
Vietnam veterans made a successful transition to civilian life. General
McCaffrey further stated that these veterans’ personal income levels
exceeded their non-veteran counterparts of the same age group by more than
18 percent. He added that Vietnam veterans had a lower unemployment rate
than the non-vet age group.

Another prevailing myth is that a disproportionate number of blacks were
killed in the Vietnam War. Statistical evidence shows that 86 percent of the
men who died in Vietnam were Caucasians. Only 12.5 percent were black, while
the remainder were “other races.” These percentages were in direct
proportion to general population statistics at that time.

A lot of people think, too, that the Vietnam War was fought by the poor and
uneducated. In actuality, these veterans were the best educated forces our
country had ever sent into combat, with 79 percent having at least a high
school diploma or equivalent. Many had taken some college courses or even
earned a degree.

The survival rate of Vietnam veterans was also much higher than in previous
wars, thanks largely to MEDEVAC helicopters. Pilots of these birds flew
nearly 500,000 missions, airlifting over 900,000 patients. The average time
lapse between wounding to hospitalization was less than one hour. As a
result less than one percent of all American wounded who survived the first
24 hours, became fatalities.

Perhaps the highest testimonial to the quality of our Vietnam veterans, is
that so many former draft-dodgers and cowards now want to claim credit for
military service they never gave. And there is no greater insult to the ones
who actually served.

I think the average American appreciates the sacrifices of all veterans.
There is nothing more noble and honorable than serving one’s country in the
armed forces. Vietnam veterans answered the call to duty, and they continue
to serve today with acts of national patriotism, community involvement and
serving in elected offices.

Make it a point this Wednesday to thank a Vietnam veteran. Tell him “Welcome
home.”

My goal is to preserve the memories of men who died too young—who gave all
they could give for a cause they believed in. It is because of them that I
sit here in a land of freedom and plenty. May they never be forgotten!

16 comments

  1. 1
    LC Draco growls and barks:

    About DAMN TIME!!!! :em04:

    My unit has had about five ‘Welcome Home, Warrior!” ceremonies in the last several years. Wonder if they will do one for the Vietnam Vets.

    And FOIST!!!

  2. 2
    BigDogg growls and barks:

    About damn time, indeed. The way that many of these warriors were treated by a very confused nation was despicable. War is horrific, but in many ways, the horrors that this war introduced these veterans to was unique. All that they gave, all that was taken from them, and then they were “welcomed” home with spit in their faces and hatred and derision – as evidenced by the myths referenced above. It makes me sick.

    These were brave and noble men, just as those that had served before them, and those that have served since. I’ve yet to meet a single Vietnam vet (and I’ve met many) that I do not fully admire for their character and courage. I hope that history overwrites the myths about them and recognizes them as the heroes they are – as are all who have served to protect this Nation’s way of life.

  3. 3
    Gladiator growls and barks:

    Obama had plenty of time while he was on vacation in Brazil to let his staff come up with a plausible explanation of why we leapt into a war (Libya) with no clear mission statement and no Congressional approval. The fact that he sought UN approval and bypassed our own Congress is breathtakingly scary. An incompetent and out of control President who hates his country. 52% of the country got what they deserved with this train wreck and the rest of us continue to suffer.

    Thank you Viet Vets

  4. 4
    Virago growls and barks:

    Wow – Better late than never.

    My husband spent three years in Vietnam and to this day can’t watch Apocalypse Now it pisses him off so much.
    All that was said above above the Viet Vets is true. What made Vietnam different than earlier wars was the media and culture turned against it and the soldiers that fought it. It was the last time that the country had a draft which was unpopular to the overindulged generation with WWII parents. Also it was the first time that we had a televised war which often deliberately sought to find horror and fault.

    All wars have brave and heroic warriors, bless them. The question really is what is the goal of the engagement. Vietnam was to end the spread of Communism, which to my husband and many others was worthy. We know many names on the wall, friends, relatives, schoolmates, etc. Yes it is better late than never.

  5. 5

    The USS Midway is anchored in San Diego. They have a really great little park there with monuments to the naval task force that fought the battle in the Phillipines that is the subject of the book Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors. There is also a monument to Bob Hope, with a statue of him surrounded by statues of soldiers and nurses and WACS from all the wars where he visited the troops. I was standing there at this monument and a couple of guys (a little older than me) were there talking about seeing him….I asked them if they had served in Vietnam and they both said they had, one of them also told me that he had been severely wounded and saw the show from a wheelchair. I put out my hand and thanked them both for their service there, and told them that it was utter bullshit how they were treated when they came home and I and others like me were making sure that it didn’t happen again. I made the wounded vet cry when I said that…….felt kinda bad about that.

    Our military won every engagement they fought over there, pretty much made the Viet Cong army extinct after the Tet offensive and yet the Communists still won. Thanks in large part to the media turncoats over here……

  6. 6
    Mike M growls and barks:

    I see in Republican-sponsored Senate Resolution 55, “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans” Day”, the following bit of history is mentioned…

    Whereas, on April 30, 1975, North Vietnamese regular forces captured Saigon, the capitol of South Vietnam, effectively placing South Vietnam under Communist control;

    … but in the House version, which was sponsored by members of the party that both started the war and then handed victory over to our enemy, that inconvenient fact has not too surprisingly been excised from the text.

    They also didn’t like this bit either, apparently, as it also got cut from the Senate version…

    (B) demonstrate the resolve that never again shall the Nation disregard and denigrate a generation of veterans.

    And then it went to “committee” where it sits.

  7. 7
    KArnold growls and barks:

    Put me down for an “about time” – and a “thank you” to every one of you who reads this blog and served there. That goes double, plus a Semper Fi, for anyone who served alongside my father, a Marine Master Sergeant.

    For the record, by the way, since this comes out of the US Senate: where does Sen. John “Winter Soldier” Kerry stand on this resolution?

  8. 8
    BigDogg growls and barks:

    KArnold says:

    For the record, by the way, since this comes out of the US Senate: where does Sen. John “Winter Soldier” Kerry stand on this resolution?

    With his head up his ass, as usual.

  9. 9

    About damn time … seconded .. thirded …

    I remember seeing this video .. haunting .. link

    RIP …. Johann Karl Schliemann, americanized to John K. Scott, my birth father … MIA, presumed dead, Vietnam, March 1965 :em04:

  10. 10
    LC Fei Long growls and barks:

    While nothing short of an angelic choir could express the resounding “Amen” with sufficient volume in regards to the belated official “thank you” to those who served during that war, I must admit I am not so hot on the commemoration of the withdrawal, which frankly was one of our nation’s least proud moments.

    I know that at least around some places, there are still some Americans who know enough sense to thank our veterans every day. And so do I.

  11. 11
    LC BOATS growls and barks:

    Response to LC Fei Long @: I have to wonder why we celebrate the withdrawal too because when I think of that day I see in my head the shameful picture of our helicopters trying to save as many as we could off the roof of our embassy while the North Vietnamese tanks rolled into Saigon. I’m sure those we left behind did not think much of it either. Ill always blame that tragic day on those on the left. I served from 1965 until mid 1969 with two tours in Vietnam, I’m proud to have served with such a fine bunch of men and I salute you and thank you for your service to our country. All this leaves me a little misty.

  12. 12
    Mike M growls and barks:

    LC Fei Long and LC Boats

    I think you guys are talking about what happened in 1975, some two years after the last American combat troops left the country following the “peace accord” that was signed on January 27, 1973. The resolution recognizes that day, March 30, 1973, when the last troops left the country with honor, not the day in 1975 when all that remained of the American military presence in-country was basically embassy personnel. That’s when the treacherous North Vietnamese violated the terms of the agreement and re-invaded South Vietnam. They bet that a significant number of the American public in general and Democratic politicians in particular, after listening to the likes of Walter Cronkite, John Kerry and Frank Church, lacked the spine to re-commit forces and they were right. Fifty-eight thousand lives wasted.

    LC Boats says…

    I’ll always blame that tragic day on those on the left

    Me too.

  13. 13
    LC Xystus growls and barks:

    “Pork Lips” Now is actually based on a Joseph Conrad novel, Heart of Darkness, set in the Congo. For some reason a supposed cinematic genius thought it’d be great Vietnam material.

  14. 14
    LC Fei Long growls and barks:

    You see, the re-invasion was a foregone conclusion thanks to the withdrawal. To say “one of” is a qualification; certainly, seeing the results is less proud than more mundane events that caused them directly, but let’s not kid ourselves… the wages of fucking your buddy over is your buddy getting fucked over, whether it’s right away or two years later.

    Hell, I am half-Korean, and my father was in the Air Force at the time, so I been learned what I gots ta know: the Communists did not negotiate or fight with honor in the 1950s, and we should not have expected them to do so in a similar situation 20 years later. The miracle of history is that Communist Vietnam itself has been taking steps towards liberalization despite what happened 40 years ago; but because of our failings, the Vietnamese people still have a long way to go towards true freedom.

  15. 15

    LC Fei Long says:

    Hell, I am half-Korean, and my father was in the Air Force at the time, so I been learned what I gots ta know: the Communists did not negotiate or fight with honor in the 1950s

    ‘Hear that, and, they’ve been refining their technique.

    I was a lucky shit,,never called,, ‘carried that draft card around like a macabre stay out of jail pass. If the cops found ya without it, they could hold you for days until they got around to verifying your draft status.’Kinda skeery knowing they’re that sweaty about filling up uniforms. ‘Already know how to install n’ dial in scopes,,reload spent brass for my 30.30, ‘Knew right about where they’d put me. Damn card.
    When they came home, some folks would insult n’ snark stoopid at some of my bud’s when they saw certain tattoo’s n’ heard certain jargon.
    To this day, if I’m in the area that someone decides to vent spleen on any one of ‘em,,no Vet’s gonna’ have to even get up.
    I was never there, but dammit I sure care.

  16. 16
    LC SleepTech: Pale Horse Wisperer growls and barks:

    Partied with some of my Vet friends last night at the local VFW. I’m not a member, but quite a few of them have been patients of mine(Thus the invite). Some from Nam, some from Korea and one from The Greatest War 2.0. My Dad’s War. Two words for him. “Cracker Jack”!!!!
    Had a Blast, so to speak!

    I Humbly salute ALL of them.