Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Viet Vets talk - Listen and hear them (Part 1)

I belonged to a social media group that enables Vietnam veterans to “swap their experiences” and voice their memories. No politics allowed, nor profanity, nor disrespect. Most of the men and women who share their experiences with this group fought on the ground. I have found their comments to be stimulating, filled with passion, tears, pride and great sensitivity. I thought I should try to highlight the themes these men and women present.

I have collected many of their memories. I will convey some of them in this Part 1, and follow up later with additional sections.  I hope those who did not serve in Vietnam read these memories to better understand what these men and women have one through, then and now.

Daily greetings

“Do not regret growing older. It’s a privilege denied to many. Together we served. Just an old soldier looking to be in the company of other old soldiers.”

“Good night old friend. I fought for you once and I’d do it again. Love you brothers and sisters.”

“Today's morning message is for all of my Vietnam Veterans. Many blessings are being sent to you for a peaceful Monday. As one of those who has been protected by you, I will never know what you have experienced. What I do know is that I am forever grateful for each and every one of you. It's truly an honor and privilege for me to be able to thank you for serving our country. You will always have a special place in my heart. Welcome Home, my Veterans, Welcome Home! With much love and respect.”


 “Let my flag wave proudly to the people that I serve.” 

“Viet-Freakin Nam. Freedom runs deep for those who fight for it.”

“This ground is sacred. Please show these men the respect, dignity and honor which they have earned by giving the ultimate sacrifice when their country called.”  

“On the 8th day God created the Paratrooper, and Hell cried, ‘Airborne.’”

“We, the willing led by the unwilling are doing the impossible for the ungrateful. We have done so much with so little for so long we are now qualified to do anything with nothing, and get it done fast.”

“I was that which others did not want to be. I went where others feared to go, and did what others failed to do. I asked nothing from those who gave nothing and reluctantly accepted the thought of eternal loneliness —- should I fail. I have seen the Face of terror; felt the stinging cold of fear; and enjoyed the sweet taste of a moment’s love. I have cried, pained, and hoped ——but most of all, I have lived times others would say were best forgotten. At least someday I will be able to say that I was proud of what I was —- a Soldier.” 

“Amen. We did our duty with as much honor, dignity and courage as we could muster. The suits, well they have our blood on their hands.”

"He was an Air Force fighter pilot, F-4's, made it a career and retired as a light colonel. We chatted a while and he told me that even though he had been stationed at Langley, had been in DC hundreds of times, and was now standing just up the hill, he had never been to the Wall. Just can't go, he said. I was amazed but as we talked I began to realize why he didn't want to go. He had told me about the bravery of combat troops on the ground, calling in air support right on top of their positions, and how close his ordnance would be to them. I felt that he held himself personally responsible for names on that wall. I said, Colonel, you got to go. For yourself, for them."

“In 1986 I decided to march at Bristol, Rhode Island... I quickly found the Vietnam vets' contingent. We sat or stood about, swapping war stories and jokes, and soon it was time to form up. We had a cadence caller, a grizzled and bearded little Special Forces master sergeant with a Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart with clusters, and more chest candy than a North Korean general. And before you knew what was what, an A-10 zoomed over, almost at treetop level, and that was the signal to step off.

"Flags, flags, flags. Flying bright and brave from porches. Soaring proud from front-yard poles. Waving back and forth in spectators' hands. Music, music all around us. And I noticed one heartening thing.

“The people were sitting, enjoying things. But as they heard the ordered tramp of boots, heard our cadence caller singing it out, saw our group approaching - they came to their feet and screamed! ‘Welcome home!’ ‘Thanks, guys!’ ‘America!’ ‘USA! USA!’

“On the porch steps of one old Victorian home, two tall, thin old men in suits and ties, garrison caps on their heads and medals on their chests, stood at rigid attention holding salutes. ‘Eyes - Left!’ shouted our cadence caller as he snapped one back at them. History coming alive before us. And, yes. We were part of that history, we realized afresh.

“All the sirens in the fire station and in their engines sounded off and the cheers were deafening as we gave the stand an ‘eyes right’ and showed Bristol and the world what pride and service were all about! A bell began to ring in a nearby steeple. Pandemonium. Joy. America.”

The pain

“Not everyone who lost his life in Vietnam died there. Not everyone who came home from Vietnam ever left there.”

“As an USAF guy, I did not see or endure what you guys did on the ground. What maddens me the most as I grow older is how the suits messed that war up beyond repair, and how the people back home turned against our forces. Those things I will take to my grave.”

“We loved our country when our country didn’t love us.” 

“It was like we came home to a foreign land. I was very confused about it all at first, then the rage hit.” Another, “Some of the past was very hurtful and still lingers ... Yeah, not so much that I was mistreated, but the lack of respect, and indifference by everyone. No acknowledgement, nor sense of accomplishment from anyone."

 “It took me till the 15th of October this year (2014) to go (to the Vietnam Wall). I was Army 68/69 in Nam. Cried my eyes out. Knew a lot of friends on the Wall.”
“Sometimes I feel guilty because I made it and some of my men died … I salute you all my brothers, dead and alive.” … “Yeah buddy, the survivor guilt thing hits me once in while,, though I was just a SP/4 … still, some of my pals, squad members didn't make it, my brothers …”

 “Vietnam vets gave up more than liberty and life, family or loved ones. We gave up the person we had grown to be, we gave up our future, our hopes and all of our dreams, and we gave up the ones who loved us the most. Young fathers died in battles fought long ago. They never saw their children or held them in their arms. They never wiped away a tear or saw their first smile. Children's pictures were like treasures, cradles in their hands. They were protected like gold, diamonds or silver wrapped in the steel of an ammo can. Their voice was something so many vets would never hear, but their hearts beat as one, the blood of a vet passing from father to son.”

“Amen to that. Hope you libtards (liberal retards) love your freedom at the cost of True Americans.”

“Ain’t the size of the man in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the man.”

“When I was in Vietnam I was numbuh ten thousand. When I returned back to the world I was a zero. Should-a stayed in Nam!”

Cadence calls

 “If I die bury me face down in the grass so the whole damn world can kiss my ass.”

“GI bread and GI gravy. GI wish I joined the Navy."

 “The prettiest girl that I ever saw, was sipping Bourbon tru a straw, I picked her up I layed her down, her pretty hair right on the ground. Give me you left right left your left.”

“Ain't no need in lookin' down, ain't no discharge on the ground. Ain't no need in going home, Jody's got your girl and gone. Ain't no need in lookin' back, Jody's got your Cadillac. Ain't no need in lookin' blue, Jody's got your sister to.”

“If I die in a combat zone box me up and ship me home. Pin my medals upon my chest and tell my mama I’ve done my best.”

“You had a good home but you left. ‘You're Right’ Your mama was there when you left. ‘You're right’ Your daddy was there when you left. ‘You're right’ Your girl was there when you left. ‘You're Right’ Jody was there when you left. ‘You're right’ Your sister was there when you left. ‘You're right’”     

A final thought


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