For some reason around the end of February each year I think of the time I was serving in the Republic of Vietnam and the TET Offensive. That would be 45 years ago this month. It seems like just last year.
Part of the reason I remember this month in 1968 is that I received two Purple Hearts and other assorted decoration - Vietnamese and American. But most of all I remember the men we lost and the friends who survived and the Vietnamese counterpart friend for life. My lifelong Vietnamese friend and I just happened to have lunch in Los Angeles just a couple weeks ago. He is the only person I’m still regularly in touched with whom I served with.
What is there to remember about Vietnam?
Senator James Webb (D-VA) and former USMC Vietnam vet wrote this in 2000:
“The most accurate poll of their (Vietnam vets) attitudes (Harris, 1980) showed that 91 percent were glad they’d served their country, 74 percent enjoyed their time in the service, and 89 percent agreed with the statement that “our troops were asked to fight in a war which our political leaders in Washington would not let them win.” And most importantly, the castigation they received upon returning home was not from the World War II generation, but from the very elites in their age group who supposedly spoke for them.
“Nine million men served in the military during Vietnam War, three million of whom went to the Vietnam Theater. Contrary to popular mythology, two-thirds of these were volunteers, and 73 percent of those who died were volunteers.
“Those who believe the war was fought incompletely on a tactical level should consider Hanoi’s recent admission that 1.4 million of its soldiers died on the battlefield, compared to 58,000 total U.S. dead.”
So at the end of February each year I think of Vietnam and now I dread the same end will come to our wasted treasure and lives - lost and/or broken - in the far off Afghanistan.