Saturday, May 10, 2008

For Those Who Served In The Vietnam War

The Names on the Wall. Vietnam War Memorial.

There are some words to a song that I know almost every veteran who has gone to war can relate to. These words were written about a soldier in WWl and going off to the fight at Galliopli, Turkey.
I quote,"In 1915 my country said son, its time to stop rambling theres work to be done, so they gave me a tin hat and they gave me a gun, and they sent me away to the war."
I wanted to share this letter I wrote to the Pottsville Republican And Herald. Only because the Vietnam War played a significant role in my life, and what I and my brothers and sisters did there is very important and should never be forgotten.

Published: Saturday, May 10, 2008 5:31 AM EDT Pottsville Republican and Herald
To the Editor:

President Richard M. Nixon once wrote: “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.’’

April 30 marked the 33rd year since the end of the American involvement in the Vietnam War. Many of the ensuing books, movies and documentaries have portrayed the Vietnam veteran and the war in general in a negative manner.

Vietnam veterans have had to endure slander from within their own ranks, such as that from U.S. Sen. John Kerry and the Vietnam Veterans Against the War.

It is necessary to keep the public educated in the realities of what Vietnam veterans have endured. In no way think I am crying the blues. I am very proud of what I and my fellow brothers and sisters did in service to our country. I only want to make sure what we did and who we are is never forgotten.

We Vietnam veterans for many years had to live under the fallacies that we were all addicted to drugs, guilt-ridden about our service and the role we played in the war, and that we used inhumane and cruel tactics against the enemy.

According to statistics from the Gen. Westmoreland Study, 91 percent of us say they were glad they served, 74 percent of us said they would serve again, even knowing the outcome,

Another study proved there was no difference in drug use between Vietnam vets and non-veterans of the same age group. Ninety-seven percent of us were discharged under honorable conditions. And amazingly, 85 percent of us made a successful transition to civilian life when there were no government-sponsored programs to help with problems associated with post traumatic stress disorder and major health issues (Agent Orange).

A recent statistic shows that 87 percent of Americans hold Vietnam veterans in high esteem. That is something that should never have been needed to be surveyed. although here in Schuylkill County I never once felt any negative misgivings toward our service.

Most people thought we were all drafted and did not want to go — two-thirds of the men who served were volunteers in comparison to World War II, where two-thirds were drafted. Seventy percent of my brothers who were killed in Vietnam were volunteers.

The far-left thinking people always liked to say there was a disproportionate number of blacks to whites killed in the war, another lie. Eighty-six percent of the men who died in Vietnam were Caucasians, 12.5 percent were black and 1.2 percent were other races.

One of my favorites was the lie that the war was fought largely by the poor and uneducated. Vietnam veterans were the best educated forces our nation had ever sent into combat. Seventy-nine percent had a high school education or better.

It has always been said that the United States lost the war in Vietnam. In reality, “The American military was not defeated in Vietnam. The American military did not lose a battle of any consequence. From a military standpoint, it was almost an unprecedented performance.’’

This is a quote from a study done at the University of California, Berkley. The actual fall of Saigon happened on April 30, 1975, two years after the American military left Vietnam. The last American combat troops departed in their entirety on March 29, 1973.

What is a fact is 58,156 American personnel died in Vietnam, 47,359 to hostile actions and 10,797 to non-hostile action; 33,704 Americans were wounded in action; 75,000 were severely disabled; 2,338 were MIA, 766 were POWs and 114 died in captivity. Eight women died in Vietnam.

The disaster that was Vietnam happened because the United States lacked the political willpower to see it through when the military had victory in its grasp. They allowed the far-left factions, peace demonstrators and communists to have their way and gave up.

Vietnam was a tragic experience for America and for those who saw combat there. There was no welcome home and little government help. We all learned from this experience. Today’s soldiers are welcomed back as heroes.

To the brave men and women who served this nation in Vietnam and all wars, your service and sacrifices will be always remembered by me.

Stu Richards


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