The Veterans Affairs Department estimates we are losing more than 500 veterans per day who served during the Vietnam War years. Had they lived, these 22 men would be among the most vulnerable to COVID-19. That was an easy call. I know I didn't believe what anybody told me about Vietnam before I went; it was something I had to go through myself. by: Darrell Franklin. “We appeal to North Vietnam, if they really want peace, to stop bombing the United States — or else get the hell out of Vietnam!” stated a group named Veterans for Peace in Vietnam. Vietnam is something you have to experience firsthand to believe. In the next 24 hours, you will receive an email to confirm your subscription to receive emails In honor of National Vietnam War Veterans Day on March 29, signed into law in 2017 by President Donald J. Trump, AARP spoke with six veterans of the war about their most vivid memories — and about what they want Americans today to know or remember. James Wright, a former Marine, is a historian and president emeritus of Dartmouth College. The United States is a big country, and there are states where Vietnam Veterans were treated as true veterans of a foreign war. Approximately 2.7 million American men and women served in Vietnam. We never thought we’d still be silent in December. Then and now we have seen official optimism and an absence of candor regarding projections of what was to come: “It is over; we have won” echoes from Vietnam to 2020. You will be asked to register or log in. Two Marines, Charles McMahon of Woburn, Mass., and Darwin Judge of Marshalltown, Iowa, were killed in a rocket attack. The ongoing war over the Vietnam Veterans Memorial ... Hart's opinion of Maya Lin's design was not motivated by race and gender. I was infantry, in the field, fighting the most misunderstood and unpopular war in American history. Mike Tharp (middle) at the 16th Public Information Detachment. He served in Southeast Asia as a physician and in combat missions from 1965 to 1971. I got a sidearm and bandolier ammunition. L.A. County outlines wrenching moves to ration healthcare if COVID-19 hospital crisis worsens. Those who did not come back alive made as great a sacrifice as any solider who died at Iwo Jima or Omaha Beach or any of the other major battles of World War II. In the mid-1980s, African American veterans of the Vietnam War were twice as likely as White veterans to experience posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), at a prevalence of 40%. More than 60% of the names on the Vietnam Memorial belong to those who were 22 or younger when they died. It’s hot and it's sticky. 1 of 5. Twelve Marshalltown natives, from age 19 to 39, died in Vietnam. Yet time has proven Vietnam veterans to … Individual cases disappear into the whole. “Americans should know that those of us who fought in Vietnam answered our nation’s call, and most of us were volunteers. A Vietnam veteran traces one of the nearly 60,000 names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Most vivid memory: being caught under fire in his helicopter on his first mission, “I remember my maintenance sergeant trying to talk me out of becoming a crew chief, but I wasn’t listening. The L.A. There were no “thank you’s,” no parades and no “welcome homes.” ... Catch the latest in Opinion. AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change. So every time I traveled through O’Hare, I would grab the phone book, back in the days when they still had phone books and pay phones, and I called every Henry in the Chicago phone book and relay the story: ‘So, do you know this guy, I’m trying to find him.’ ‘No, never heard of him.’. Vietnam, that was something that we just kind of wandered into over a period of years. Charles McMahon had been active in the Boys Club in Woburn where he excelled as a swimmer and taught and mentored young boys. PTSD Treatments Not … Jan 30, 2016 at 2:05 PM . So you know when you saw tracers, there were a lot of bullets you didn’t see. On my first assault mission, my aircraft was badly shot up, but we didn’t go down. Most vivid memory: his first time landing in Vietnam, after being stationed in Tokyo, “We had flown a 10-hour reconnaissance mission from Okinawa, along the coast of China, then into the Gulf of Tonkin, and did reconnaissance between Haiphong and Hainan Island, which was Chinese. What Americans should know: Vietnam veterans served with as much sacrifice as any in American history. to search for ways to make a difference in your community at Over 1,500 people die in one week — a staggering number that represents nearly 7% of the state’s more than 22,000 total coronavirus-related fatalities. In the meantime, please feel free ... Opinion… And for some reason, I thought he was from Chicago. By 1969, more than half a million Americans were stationed in Vietnam. The remembrances sometimes include heartrending stories of the many family members and friends who were unable to be with their loved ones at the end because of coronavirus-related restrictions. For many of the American Veterans of the war, the wounds of Vietnam will never heal. Bob Muller, Vietnam Veterans Against the War Presented at a meeting of the Student Assembly of Columbia University Student Assembly, July 23, 1971. In 1971, he was named the Woburn “Boy of the Year.” He was 21 and died 11 days after arriving in Vietnam. Len Kirchner examines a Thai boy during civic action (left); Kirchner in his dress uniform. And to be frank, when I think back, I think, How did I get into this John Wayne movie, anyway?”. Letters to the Editor: Shame on wealthy trying to buy their way to the front of the vaccine line. A Vietnam veteran traces one of the nearly 60,000 names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Op-Ed: Stop dismissing all vaccine skeptics as anti-science conspiracy theorists. Most vivid memory: being wounded in a blast on patrol, along with a wartime buddy, Willie Henry, and not knowing what happened to his friend until 26 years later, “After two to three weeks of recovery, I was back out in the field and never did find out what happened to Willie. Opinion Political Op-Eds Social Commentary United States military involvement in the Vietnam War officially began on August 5, 1964; however, the first U.S. casualty in Vietnam occurred on July 8, 1959. Hordes of YouTube vigilantes awaited. And in neither was there official national recognition of this or a pause for national mourning. In both crises, unspoken politics, personal ambition and arrogance too often have framed public statements as well as military and public health strategy. On National Vietnam War Veterans Day, memories and opinions remain strong Len Kirchner, M.D., 83, of Litchfield Park, Ariz.. Kirchner entered the Air Force in 1961 at age 25. The Vietnam War was the longest and most unpopular war in which Americans ever fought. And that gave us, in most cases, a significantly different view of the war than people who were in your typical American units, who simply viewed the Vietnamese as ‘the other guys,’ so to speak. The company that I served with was told that we were going to Vietnam, so off we went. 509 – Two Vietnam Veterans’ opinions about the war. Jim Doyle in Di An, South Vietnam, 1st Infantry Division base camp, 1969 (left); Doyle today. Some hotels and rental hosts may still be taking bookings that California has banned. Ten Woburn residents between the ages of 18 and 29 also died in the war. AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that empowers people to choose how they live as they age. The Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act, signed into law in 2017, designates March 29 of each year as National Vietnam War Veterans Day. During the war, more than 58,000 servicemen and women lost their lives.Vietnam Veterans represent the largest cohort of American Veterans in terms of service era. “All the people who fought the war weren’t responsible for making the war. We need to do that today. “She says, ‘You got a message on your machine that I think you’re gonna want to hear.’ So she held the phone over the machine, and it was Willie, who called and said, ‘I got your letter.’ I called him and left a message on his machine. Please enable Javascript in your browser and try Since singing is risky during the pandemic, my group went on hiatus. It reminds me of the way the Vietnam veterans were treated on their return from the war. Most of California bans vacation stays, but travelers, lodgings aren’t in line. The official number fails to include the many veterans who died after the war as a result of lingering medical and emotional conditions. Letters to the Editor: More billionaires should be like MacKenzie Scott and give away their fortunes. Just as the COVID-19 dead have likely been undercounted, so have the U.S. military dead in Vietnam. There was fire coming from the Vietnamese village across Highway 1. With the surge showing no signs of slowing down, L.A. County facilities are preparing for how to allocate care in a crisis situation. A notorious child rapist was released from prison. The second nation conflict was Korea, and Harry Truman made a decision to stop the aggression from the North into the South. You can also manage your communication preferences by updating your account at anytime. Most vivid memory: being shot at for the first time, “I was on guard in a wooden tower on the front perimeter which faced Highway 1, which ran into Saigon about 30 miles south. Vietnam Veterans. Bob Wallace (far left) helps carry a 400-pound 106mm recoilless rifle through the streets of Huê´, Vietnam, during the Tet Offensive in 1968. If COVID-19 disproportionately strikes the elderly and the vulnerable, the Vietnam War disproportionately killed the young and the vital. Reasons for the disparity in PTSD prevalence could include social and racial discord during the war, institutional racism within the military, and racism after the war. The first combat troops arrived in 1965 and fought the war until the cease-fire of January 1973, America’s involvement in Vietnam actually lasted from 1957 until 1975. According to federal law, the United States' military involvement in the Vietnam War began in February 1961 and lasted until May 1975. When we landed at 2 in the morning, we got out of that airplane — and understand, this is my first trip to Vietnam. Excerpt From THE VETERAN: Now Online. www.aarp.org/volunteer. Opinion ; Shame of Vietnam War still haunts veterans. The McMahon and Judge families had to delay saying farewell to their young sons. I was in the bunker, the elevated bunker, and every eighth or ninth round was a tracer round — red or green. In this episode the opinions of two Vietnam Veterans from Virginia are featured. Harman was drafted in 1967 and served in Vietnam in 1969, as a crew chief and door gunner on a “Huey” helicopter for the Army. The day before Saigon fell on April 30, 1975, the last two U.S. servicemen died in the Vietnam War. And every day. Now, the American generation that suffered most in Vietnam is the most vulnerable to the coronavirus. The commemoration was authorized by Congress, under DoD auspices, and launched at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in 2012. receive communications related to AARP volunteering. Already, hospitals are struggling to keep up with the pace of new COVID-19 patients. But if you send me a letter addressed to Willie, I will forward it to him. The first batches of COVID-19 vaccine have been reserved for healthcare workers and staff and residents of nursing homes. Their remains would not be repatriated for nearly a year. We served with honor and distinction.”, Doyle served from 1969 to 1970, as an Army infantry soldier, to “seek out, close with and destroy the enemy.”. What Americans should know: Servicemen did what was asked and looked after one another. I had a good guardian angel and continued to fly for the remainder of my tour.”. Decoration Day started on May 30. Approximately 2.7 million American men and women served in Vietnam. surpassed the tally of those killed in the Vietnam War, nearly 60,000 U.S. service members who died in Vietnam, Westmoreland reported seeing a similar light, L.A. County on verge of becoming COVID-19 epicenter. I have been back to Vietnam, and it is altogether different from when I left 49 years ago.”. In the chaos of the U.S. withdrawal, the bodies of the two Marines were left behind. In the waning days of April, the number of people who died from COVID-19 in the United States surpassed the tally of those killed in the Vietnam War. The dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in 1982 began the process, but many identify the Gulf War of 1990-91—with its national flag-waving, … Five key legacies of the Vietnam War stand out as having shaped the nation -- and indeed, continue to do so today, writes Rudy deLeon. Posted: Nov 11, 2020 / 08:08 PM CST / Updated: Nov 11, 2020 / 10:28 PM CST. Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume. The Vietnam War was not random; it was the result of calculated choices. Letters to the Editor: Empowering women is the best way to reduce childbirth deaths. Public opinion about Vietnam: support for the war, protestors, veterans, military strategies, Johnson’s handling, and more. That war and this pandemic have each been marked by a pronounced inequitable sharing of the burden and the cost by the poor and by racial minorities. He had been an Eagle Scout; a high school teacher described him as “rock stable.” Judge had arrived in Vietnam the month before he died. From time to time during the American war in Iraq which began in 2003, aging Vietnam veterans wearing baseball caps and khaki jackets emblazoned with pins, patches, and the … As our silent season continues, we and many others must forgo holiday performances. by Aaron Kassraie, AARP, March 28, 2019 We were Marines together in Vietnam and very good friends. Members of that once-young baby boomer generation are now senior citizens. L.A. County on verge of becoming COVID-19 epicenter: ‘We are getting crushed’. Are we so cynical now that $4.2 billion in charitable giving is taken as an indication of society’s ills? I didn’t know anything. Counterpoint. The first thought that came to mind was, Maybe I should have listened to my maintenance sergeant. Sign up for AARP's twice-monthly Your Health newsletter for the latest on coronavirus and more. Like most Vietnam Veterans, I returned home from the War to a somewhat hostile political environment in the United States. Zoo, campgrounds and playgrounds closed are again. WHEREAS, on March 28, 2017, President Donald Trump signed into law The Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act of 2017, designating every March 29 as National Vietnam War Veterans … “I think the most important thing is that going to war is such an important decision made by our political leaders. The focus is on the number, not our fellow citizens. John Rivers (second from right) after his final combat operation. Many observers have described the struggle against the pandemic as a “war.” The COVID-19 fight is not a war but a public health crisis, striking randomly. Op-Ed: How remote working in the post-COVID-19 era could transform L.A. and other cities. You must be logged in to leave a comment. Enforcement is a question. His most recent book is “Enduring Vietnam: An American Generation and its War.”. Most vivid memory: personal relationships with Vietnamese soldiers and families, “We pretty much lived and worked with the Vietnamese. Low-income minority families hit hard by COVID-19 wait their turn for the vaccine as the wealthy try to buy their way to the front of the line. And I bent down below the sandbags with just my head and my helmet peering over, and I peed my pants.”. He is now the executive director of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Office in Washington, D.C. Op-Ed: The social justice case for canceling college debt. A veteran of the U.S. Army, he served during the Vietnam War.” Or Vietnam veterans will write letters to the editor, sometimes pleading for better medical care. “We should have never gone into that war. We must act … I am a combat-disabled Army veteran who served in Vietnam in 1968-69. Editorial: Let L.A.'s feral cats get neutered and die out. Not all WWII vets did turn their backs. More Exxon Mobil Rewards+™ points on qualified purchases, WW will help you build a customized weight loss plan, Guaranteed rate of return on an exclusive 8-month term. And when I speak of Agent Orange, about 4 million Vietnamese were exposed to Agent Orange, and several hundred thousand of them died, and many of their children and grandchildren are messed up because of it. Rivers served from 1969 to 1971, as an Army infantry officer advising a Vietnamese military infantry unit. The provider’s terms, conditions and policies apply. Primarily because I had so much exposure to them and their families.”. He served in... Keith Harman, 72, of Delphos, Ohio. “Many Vietnam veterans did face the problem of coming back and being misdiagnosed and being misunderstood,” said Schnurr. Most states celebrate “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day” on March 29 or 30 of each year. | related to AARP volunteering. 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