As Vietnam War Veterans Day approaches on March 29, one era and Medal of Honor recipient said Veterans should participate in events.

Barney Barnum is a retired Marine Corps colonel who served two tours in Vietnam. He said Vietnam War Veterans Day is an opportunity for Vietnam Veterans to show pride in their service. He also said the day is a chance for the public to thank Vietnam Veterans.

Vietnam Veterans’ involvement

The Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act of 2017 designates March 29 as National Vietnam War Veterans Day. The presidential proclamation said, “With conviction, our Nation pledges our enduring respect, our continuing care, and our everlasting commitment to all Vietnam veterans.”

For Barnum, he said March 29 is a day to reflect.

Medal of Honor recipient and Marine Veteran Barney Barnum stands in front of the Vietnam Wall in Washington, D.C.

Medal of Honor recipient and Marine Veteran Barney Barnum.

“I think it’s a chance for Vietnam Vets to pause and reflect on who they are, what they did, what they accomplished, and to think about the guys who fought on their left and their right,” he said.

Barnum said while Vietnam was an unpopular war at the time, American efforts led to the fall of communism as the U.S. knew it, including the Berlin Wall in 1991. For that, he said Vietnam Veterans deserve a thank you and a handshake.

“Be proud of your service,” he said. “Being a Vet is an honor.”

He added that attending and participating in these events are a chance to honor fallen brothers and sisters.

“If you see events are going to be staged and conducted and you’re within a reasonable amount of travel time, you ought to go,” he said. “By going there, you may feel good about it, but you’re also going to be representing the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coasties that can’t go because they paid the ultimate sacrifice. So, as a sign that their lives were not lost in vain, show up and go arm-and-arm for those who are not going to be able to be there. It will show a little bit of unity and, who knows, you may bump into buddies you haven’t seen in 50 years.”

Public involvement

For the public, Barnum said the day is an opportunity to ask questions and listen.

“Stop talking and listen to some of these guys when they start to talk, and hear what they’re saying,” he said.

He said listening can help people understand Veterans and how they overcame fear, demonstrated courage and showed both service and sacrifice by serving the country in harm’s way.

“Maybe people will say, ‘You know what, these guys did a good job and I ought to thank them,’” he said.

March 29 Wall events

Across the country, various organizations host events, including at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C. and traveling walls across the country.

Barnum encourages Vietnam Veterans to visit these memorials. He said his first visit was on a snowy, 2:30 a.m. trip enroute back from a banquet in Washington, D.C. As he walked to the wall, a group of a dozen college kids heading north to go skiing recognized Barnum. He talked to them for about two hours about his service, which opened up some long-suppressed feelings.

“It helped,” he said, adding that talking about service is easier than holding onto grief. “A heavy load is easier to carry if you split it up,” he said.

Barnum said he visits the wall frequently and experiences a wide range of emotions. The hardest times are on a beautiful day, when he sees his reflection over the name of a fallen service member. Despite those times, Barnum said visiting the memorial is important to pay tribute to fallen comrades.

“I think the beauty of the wall is its simplicity,” he said. “I like the logical order of people who are listed on the wall by the order that they gave their life in support of this great country. It makes you realize the sacrifices our young warriors made in Vietnam.”

Serving in Vietnam

Barnum arrived in Vietnam in December 1965, serving with 2d Battalion, 9th Marines. Within days of his arrival, he was on an operation coming out of the mountains near Ky Phu. His company provided rear security for the battalion movement out of the mountains. The enemy ambushed the entire battalion, killing the company commander and radio operator.

Barnum said he assumed command of Hotel Company, who “didn’t even know my name,” having served with them five days. Calling in artillery fire, Barnum raced out to recover the dying commander and radio. He then led the unit throughout intense battle. They eventually broke contact with the enemy and joined up with the remainder of the battalion.

After receiving the Medal of Honor in 1967, Barnum requested to go back to Vietnam, returning in 1968. Barnum built over a dozen fire bases while serving as a battery commander during Operation Dewey Canyon.

“People say ‘Thank you for your service,’” Barnum said. “My comment is, ‘It was an honor to serve.’ I think that’s the reason I wanted to go back. I’m a Marine.”

Find events

Started in 2012–the program will run for 13 years, culminating in 2025–the Vietnam War Commemoration honors and gives thanks to all Vietnam Veterans. In 2017, March 29 officially became National Vietnam War Veterans Day.

More than 11,000 commemorative partners conduct events in their local communities throughout the year to recognize Vietnam Veterans and their families. People can learn about events in their local community by visiting Visitors can search for event by name, date, country, zip code and category. The site also allows visitors to search within a 1-100 mile distance of a zip code. Vietnam War Veterans Day is March 29, but organizers stage events throughout the year.

Continuing to serve

Even though Vietnam War Veterans Day is about thanking Veterans of that era, Barnum said Veterans also should think about serving others. Barnum said continuing to serve fellow Veterans is important because it’s a way to say thank you, give back and appreciate what they’ve done. He continues to serve, helping with the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation and visiting Veterans near his Northern Virginia home.

“There are times if I’m down in the dumps, I’ll get in the car and go over to Bethesda (Walter Reed National Military Medical Center) and visit troops on the ward,” he said. “I get all fired up because they are magnificent bastards. They really are. I’m so proud of them for all they’ve accomplished.”

Read more about Barnum

USS Harvey Barnum | Ship naming ceremony | Medal of Honor Citation | Navy historical profile

By Adam Stump is a public affairs specialist formerly with VA's Digital Media Engagement team. He is a retired Air Force Veteran who served 20 years, including two deployments to Afghanistan for detention operations and special operations.

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Published on Mar. 21, 2022

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  1. James Frick April 1, 2022 at 12:07 pm

    I don’t know

  2. David Litrenta March 29, 2022 at 9:09 pm

    I served with the 101st AB Division from 1963-66…I did not go to Vietnam you see,,,GOD had other plans for me…I did not ask, but I knew it was an important task…what I did was not trifle…it consisted of a bugler…six pall bearers and seven men , each with a rifle…what we did, we did not dread, for we had the honor of burying our dead.

    To this day I will never forget…

  3. Gary Weber March 29, 2022 at 4:24 pm

    My name is Gary, I served in Nam 68-69. I was a machine gunner on convoys 50 caliber in jeep and M-60 on the 18 wheelers. We hauled food and ammo and other supplies to th 101st airborne, big red 1, 25 th infantry and others. Met a lot of nice people. The first thing I did when I got there was attend a funeral for six soldiers killed on an attack on one of our convoys. World War II was the last war we should have had our nose in. After that it was all about our big ego. Korea, Viet Nam, and all the others after that. I was proud to serve my country,but when I left Viet Nam, I left all my medals and reminders of what a waste of fellow friends we left behind. Medals are ways of politicians justifying there arrogance and and guilt for poor decision making. Today when you watch the news and you see the suits at there desks, one killing indiscriminately and the other talking tough and letting the other get away with it. This is why when you have complaints about the government or the VA hospital’s they fall on deaf ears. They are above the rest of us and don’t have to go to the same hospitals as the rest of us. Fellow Viet Nam vets, hope you had a good life. I thought the strangest thing I saw was when there was vacation tours to go to Viet Nam. How ironic!

  4. ivan March 28, 2022 at 6:17 pm

    go 175th outlaws of vihn long airfield vietnam reunion san antonio tex in september. looking forward to seing the guys sinc covid cancelled the past two years. go outlaws bushwackers and hanger rats.

  5. Sam Cook March 26, 2022 at 11:49 am

    Graduated U.P. high school June ’66. Mom sent me to computer school in Phila. Brother had a wife and young son. I had school or farm deferments. Bro had a high draft number. I volunteered to get more computer training in the Air Force. LOL. And keep my bro from the draft. Stationed 2 years in Wash. D.C. Hung out with the wrong crowd and just wanted out. Stayed away from the anti-war demonstrations across the river. First sgt. and Base Commander told me, “There are no jobs when you leave.” They were spot on. I left under honorable conditions. Many article 15s later. And no rank. Vet relatives dissed me. Being discharged was like basic training. Except the service was a job. After discharge I could smile and not be harassed by my T.I. And instead of losing weekend passes was free to roam. Hitch-hiked east to west for 2 years due to no work. No one wanted to hire a VN era service vet. 30 years I denied being a veteran. 1st decent job was transporting trucks for Ryder in 1978. While travelling checked out other jobs. Applications wanted to hire minorities due to affirmative Action. App questions were, “Are you black, hispanic, native american, oriental, OR OTHER?” Being “other” again, other job prospects didn’t look good. Still denied being a vet. Around the year 2000 applications dropped those A.A. questions.
    Thank you Ryder! For the 11 years you allowed me to work there! And the monthly pension. Attend a VN area ceremony? Probably not. Too emotional. American legion newsletters tear me up. No AL activities nearby. So I didn’t rejoin. One other poster stated the VN war was to support industry. And the top cats. Hmmm-.
    Thank you for your service troops, support groups, USO, Red Cross, and everyone helping the service men. And you too, First responders. You also put your lives on the line.
    Gee- 4X11=??? Let me get my phone out for this.

  6. N. Bass March 26, 2022 at 10:47 am

    Yesterday, March 25th, marked the 53rd anniversary of a helicopter crash that killed my crew chief, William Schoth. We were hit by an RPG just before midnight while trying to resupply a Grunt unit that was almost out of ammo after a daylong contact with the VC. Please help me ensure that his name will never be forgotten by repeating his name aloud and thanking him for his sacrifice.

  7. Diane Junk March 25, 2022 at 9:18 pm

    I wish to thank the Government of Berkeley County, SC for cremating a Pennsylvania born Vietnam Veteran who died in a homeless shelter on Veterans Day, 2013. Nobody checked to see if he was a Veteran. Robert James Brown had no next of kin. His cremains sat on the crematorium shelf for 5 years and then they were transported to Greenlawn Memorial Park, in Columbia, SC. to be put in an Unclaimed Cremains crypt in Building D, #153 on Level D. Since the crematorium would not release his cremains to the Missing In America Project, who is authorized by our government to give a decent burial forgotten vets, I believe his ashes were most likely co-mingled with other who were cast aside and they didn’t want the truth to get out. Disgusting.

  8. Robert Mente March 25, 2022 at 12:08 pm

    I am a Vietnam Era vet entered in Oct 1970 at Fort Ord, CA. I was one that did not served ‘boots on the ground’, but honestly, was to scare to go. I was 11B AIT at Fort Polk, LA and attended the ‘shake & bake school and Airborne School at Fort Benning with a pre-agreement (signed) – that upon graduation you will be shipped to Vietnam. Luck was on my side when President Nixon ordered (July/August 1971) that all combat MOS would not be sent to Vietnam period. Vietnamization program is in effect. Redirected to the 82nd ABN DIV and an early our in April 1972. Return to active duty after using the GI Bill and ROTC and stayed until 1996; and ‘hindsight’ it was crystal clear that I would not have survived ‘boots on the ground’ in Vietnam at that age.

  9. ROGER A REINER March 25, 2022 at 2:03 am

    As a Flag Ship on the USS Denver we often saw some of the hottest areas and engaged in many things that other ships did not. We were cited by the Sec’y of the Navy as the first US Navy ship to launch missions into North Vietnam as a response to the North’s Easter offensive in early 1972. We also were the command ship of ships as far as the eye could see in any direction except land, at Quang Tri Province beach where we took on heavy fire from land. This was more like a WWII assault. Even though recently injured with TBI’s etc., a situation that had been covered up by my department and for which I received very little treatment for, I had the instinct of walking through this shower/barrage several times while others hid thinking I must be crazy. You see I had already died temporarily beforehand and once that happened, I had no fear of death and still do not. I was assigned to the starboard rear gun director during General Quarters and when I arrived, the operator was not there so I asked the duty Officer there where the operator was? He said the guy was in sickbay so instead of operating my normal set of headphones for this location, I also jumped into the gun director as operator. At that same time, the first 50 ca.’s started whizzing at, over, past, and around us. Again, as Command/Flag Ship, we were closest to shore. Since we had been extended on tour, a growing number of crew were new and green, because at the end of a normally scheduled tour, most of the crew is either transferred or discharged. That process continued only they were replaced by untrained and inexperience personnel. This green Ensign at the gun director saw the incoming barrage, tore off his headphones threw them to the deck, and commenced to hang over the rail vomiting for the next half hour plus. I jumped back out of the gun director and ran over to grab his headphones which were a different communication group than mine, crisscrossed both sets of headphones on my head and operated the gun director for almost an hour before the normal operator returned from sick bay. Then I got up and walked again through and around our area still receiving random bursts and showers but returned to continue to operate both sets of headphones. Later on when they announced that the ship had been awarded the Combat Action Ribbon, which by past experiences we had already qualified for, most of the crew grumbled that we had never earned this. That is because most of the crew is below decks and never would experience what we had at that location above decks. If only one person or area earns this on a ship, the entire ship then earns it as well, but no details were ever released or circulated as to how the CAR was earned. We also were the first ship to be assigned specially equipped Cobra helicopters. During Operation MARHUK (Marine Hunt Kill), these were successfully utilized for various things such as cutting off supply lines. We often carried 8-900 Marines and several hundred Special Forces ranging from UDT teams to tacrons to CIA in military uniforms, to you name it.

    I had been injured during a buoy mooring in Hong Kong in mid to late March 1971, where I actually died temporarily under water for around 10 minutes, but recovered and climbed back up to assist with the connection of the anchor chain to the buoy. During this initial task, three of us on board the buoy which was around 10-12 feet in diameter concrete, we had to first connect a 2-3 inch very long wire rope cable from the ship to the buoy. The anchor itself which weighed 40,000 pounds was disconnected from the chain and bolted to the ship. Upon connection of this cable, the ship was supposed to reverse until the cable was taut and then they were supposed to slowly lower/slide the chain down to us on the cable so that we could connect it to the buoy. At the last moment when it seemed like we should be in proper position, I looked up to find the ship coming at us and on the focsle above an E-5 was cutting the chain loose to drop straight down on top of us. The chain consisted of 100 pound links so this was a lot of dead weight with a slightly forward motion, that would be on top of us very fast, and I was in the sweet spot, almost as its target. In less than a second, I decide to jump to my left towards the motor whale boat that was along side of the buoy which had the boat coxswain and a radioman on board. As I jumped, the chain hit the back of my head and changed my trajectory to where the front of my head drilled into the metal boat rail and then ricocheted my head and body into the concrete buoy. I remember thinking at that moment, that was it, I could take no more, and then blanked out. My next memory was going into the ocean but for some reason I remember that in slow motion, my body slipping into icy cold water and me looking all around to see what the other four sailors were doing. It was a windy, blustery day but when I was under water, I reasoned that I should try to get to the other end of the buoy away from the ship bumping the buoy, but I had to be careful to stay away from the boat propeller screws. At that time I must have slipped into the other world because I instantly found myself where I needed to be but found it strange that the water there was luke warm, and I did not even need to breathe, so I stayed there for a while until the chaos had passed and then looked for an opening to climb back out of the water. One came but it was very quick as the boat again slapped against the buoy and would have really been bad for me. Another came and it was long enough to climb back out and assist the connection, which consisted of connecting to the center buoy iron loop, a heavy rusty clamp with a link of the chain. The chain had a small portion draped over the edge of the buoy which could shift at any moment causing injury to any of us who were in its way or were trying to connect it. The locking pin was so rusty that we took turns trying to turn it and tighten it and each of us made it a quarter to half an inch each try. Eventually we did get it to the end and to the lock point where we finished it off and then did a quick look at everything and again boarded the boat to return to the ship. As the boat was turning and going around the very front of the ship, I looked down at myself and thought: what in the he*l happened to me? My dungaree pants was torn wide open from my left foot all the way to the crotch, and my life jacket looked like someone had repeatedly taken a machete to it with long vertical cuts all the way across the front of it. As the motor whale boat was being raised up to the ship, but before we reached the main deck, orders were being shouted at us in the boat. The two of us who got hit by the chain were to report to the 1st Lt.’s office and the three who were not in danger or injured, were to report to sick bay. Dave F. and myself waited for 5-10 minutes until the 1st Lt. came in. He went to the podium and commenced, red hot, to chew us out for jumping off the buoy. Dave said that he had been hit in the leg but I never had the chance to say anything. They covered it all up in our department and I soon was in a serious mental fog that lasted for at least 45 years until my mind began to remember most of the details, one at a time, of what had happened back then.

    Even though I could not remember all the details early on, I had told VA many times about what I experienced but they told me there was no record and treated me as though I was delusional and making it all up. By 2015 I decided to at least try to get my Navy discharge papers corrected. I put together as much info as I could because they only showed that I had the National Defense, Vietnam Service with four battle stars and the Vietnam Campaign, and two tours of Vietnam. They don’t really correct DD-214/215’s but rather draft another completely different form that adds info to the original. This process takes several years but when completed they sent me two official forms of this, one of which I had to send back to the Navy at Virginia and one of which I was to keep. This they erroneously sent to my 1969 enlistment address by them, which no longer existed and it was never forwarded to me. Later on DAV of which I am a life member, pulled it up and provided me with an official version that showed it was actually filed in Virginia. I have yet to receive the actual medals or ribbons or stars, and they failed to include the 2nd and 3rd tours. Upon further research, I found that the ship’s log and the COR (Commanding Officer’s annual Report) for 1971, the year I was injured and the year of the two missing tours, was missing and/or classified. During that process I did receive copies of several interesting things from National Archives, etc. When I was transferred from the ship around July 15-20, 1972 to Subic Bay Hospital in the Philippines, I was later further transferred from there to San Francisco (where I got the full hippie treatment at the airport), Treasure Island on July 24 late PM, via “sealed orders” and was never privy to my orders but was immediately administratively Honorably discharged from the Navy on July 26, 1972. Around late 2016 I obtained a copy of a Memorandum Log Sheet in my name from a place I had never heard of named Oakland Naval Hospital (ONH) just across the bay from Treasure Island, which entries started on August 4, 1972 and ran until a final entry on September 30, 1972. Normal entries were “man not here yet” and the final entry stated that I had been discharged from the Navy on July 26, 1972. The importance of this at that time is that the VA scheduled my initial visit on August 23, 1972, and definitely did not have my full medical records from the ship and especially the injury related records. That visit resulted in a lower back 10% VA disability and after each other item I listed on the original claim that I filled out at Treasure Island was a “not found”. This was not provided to me until years later when VA told me that I had been denied for all the other items. In fact this was an allusion that they did not have my full records during my initial visit, but they still stand by that as being an official denial even though they never provided a copy to me until many years later, and the vast majority of official denials are in a completely different format.

    After 46-47 years post discharge I was miraculously able to contact one of the sailors who was on the buoy with me and he graciously wrote up a brief email “buddy statement” that proved the incident occurred. There was also a shrink report written up that alluded to this because after a few months from my injury, I was still unable to obtain meaningful medical treatment. I had requested the psychiatric visit in June or so, 1971 and it was scheduled for December 8, 1971 at Subic Bay Hospital. He recommended that I be transferred off the ship or at least to another department, but like all medical things back then on the ship, it was ignored. I had obtained numerous light duty chits and all were ignored, because my department said if I was not in a hospital bed, I was fit for full duty. I had electrical shocks coming from my neck and have been told I have post traumatic selective amnesia, along with PTSD and I had nerve impingement from my neck into my left shoulder and many other things. When in late 2016 I then asked VA if they could schedule an MRI for my head and left side, they came back and said that I have a small piece of brain missing due to concussion (which was never treated), and then another MRI revealed that I had a fractured pelvis which must have happened when I blanked out on the buoy, between then and the time that I went into the water, a short period which is still not remembered by me. When Dave F. and I were released from the 1st Lt.’s office that day of the injury, we were told to go to our berthing compartments so we were never even sent to sick bay. The three who were sent there and were never injured, all received a clean bill of health and a “splice the main-brace” measure of whiskey. So after I gathered up all the info I thought pertinent and much of which I obtained during the discharge papers correction rehearsal, I went to visit a local VSO who told me that I should file a form for PTSD along with a writeup explaining why I was doing so. The VSO was an ex-04 military officer and very astute but unfortunately was also hired by our county, the 3rd or 4th largest in the US (and bigger than the two smallest states, Rhode Island and Delaware) as their emergency manager. This write-up for me was a very difficult task.

    I began writing up what had to begin with a full explanation of the anchor chain incident, research that showed what the task was, how it was supposed to be undertaken, and then how it all went wrong as best I could recall or understand. Because of my short and medium term memory loss, and to avoid as much redundancy as possible, it was necessary for me to read and re-read all that I had previously written each day until I completed the write-up. It took me off and on during spare time, around 10 1/2 months and still was not totally finished, but the VSO had previously processed my intent to the VA and therefore there was a deadline of one year to meet. I figured I had enough info included without completing it so went to contact the VSO to arrange an appointment. After numerous attempts, I came to the conclusion that he was way too busy that year with his emergency management duties, so decided to reluctantly contact the DAV. I say reluctantly because I had previously tried to have them assist me and they were mostly hung up on the info from VA that I was delusional. Still I persisted and told them I simply wanted to file this PTSD form and attachments and would they help? They were by then gone as to local assistance so I needed to talk to their NSO on the other end of the state, about 360+ miles away. My son helped me to assemble all this and get it mailed off to them. This filing was my write-up which was 67 pages and another 100-115 pages of documentation to try to back up what I was saying. I had also received copies of at least two different high level Navy medical officers that had directed that I be sent to Oakland Naval Hospital, but they were dated snail mail July 25, 1972, the day before I was discharged and nobody ever forwarded any of this to me back then. This entire filing was processed by the DAV NSO and at least got the ball rolling, even though there were a couple of minor mistakes as to what I was specifically claiming. Not long after that, the numerous letters from VBA began and it was more than I could deal with so I contacted a law firm and then turned it all over to them. It helps me a lot so far and keeps me from going entirely crazy but that process also has its ups and downs, which I have dealt with so far.

    As to the discharge papers update, they added our Meritorious Unit Citation from the Sec’y of the Navy for being the first US ship to launch missions into North Vietnam, two more Battle Stars to my Vietnam Service Medal for a total of six, and the Combat Action Ribbon. Upon research, historians have divided the US/Vietnam Conflict/War into 29 or 30 major campaign/engagements. Out of those 29/30, our ship, the USS Denver participated partially or totally in 18 during the time I was aboard from January 1970 through July/August 1972. Of course to us on board ship it all seemed like one very long campaign. Even when we returned stateside, we were only there for a short while, mostly only a few weeks although it was a bit longer after the first tour. They never included in my revamped discharge papers the two shorter tours that occurred in 1971. I wonder if there is a coincidence related to my anchor chain injury incident which happened in 1971 and the complete missing or still classified ship’s log and COR for that year. Way too many things were discombobulated after that to say they were all simply coincidental. Even the incident itself begged for answers because it was completely fouled up and I was the apparent target. The only thing that pops up in my mind is that an E-6 in our department had literally gotten stabbed in the back prior to this and at least two different sailors whom I did not know and were from other departments, had told me that this E-6 had alluded to them that I either stabbed him or was somehow behind it. Since I did not even know about his alleged stabbing, I had chalked it all off as rumor. Afterwards though, at a time when I needed to crawl off somewhere to heal, he assigned every of the worst possible work details to me and then when I was unable to complete them to his satisfaction, he jerked my already approved promotion from E-3 to E-4. I found out recently that that is a violation of the USMJ unless done so as a result of an official hearing such as a court martial or at least a Captain’s Mast. Even though I did not get permanently killed, it definitely screwed up the entire rest of my life.

    As to the VA/VBA’s response to my write-up, they have done numerous C&P exams and some of them multiple times and they have me as total and permanent, but many of the legitimate conditions they still deny as to service connection. The Navy and the VA were wrong but the worst thing in the world is to prove to them that they were wrong, because primarily they are never wrong. For many years I had to pay co-pays and rarely ever received travel pay, even though we were all told back prior to enlistment that we would never ever have to pay for medical care. Since much of my situation was denied as to service connection, I had to figure out ways to attempt to self-treat these things. For instance I take 48 Chinese herbs twice a day for joint pain and numerous other things for various other conditions. I have allergies that are caused by the only natural hormone replacement that works for my hypothyroidism because it is made from pigs and I have always been allergic to pork. It takes me around 3-4 hours per week to sort basic pills plus an hour per day to sort AM/PM from the basic ones. I have osteoarthritis in every joint, PN that is really nasty, perpetual stomach ulcers, etc., etc. Last July I obtained a VA authorization to see a spine specialist in Denver and during the initial visit he wrote up a next day stat surgery for my neck, explaining that I could be paralyzed at any moment. The surgery went fine and consisted of a total disc replacement at C4 to C5 and my neck now at 70 is much better and my left shoulder is starting to act like the neck/shoulder impinged nerve is improving. My local doctor had told me that my neck was wrecked at least from C3 to T1. I have three more MRI’s that he is to review to see if he needs to address anything else, as there are thoracic, lumbar, and pelvic issues yet.

    As to my Navy experience, I loved my ship and most of my shipmates and officers, and even the Navy in general. I had had some very good experiences prior to being injured. During our ship’s maiden voyage, we were on our way to answer a distress call in the middle of a typhoon (hurricane) and I was assigned to the helm 8-12 PM watch. Shortly after reporting, the compass began swinging wildly side to side. I had been told that the ship could handle up to a 39 degree roll prior to a capsize. When we hit around ten degrees both ways I started analyzing things that were never told to me. The flight deck always swung in delay to the rest of the ship, and the compass location was offset from the center. I became accustomed to the swings so that I could anticipate one side swing by the strength of the other side. I started swinging the hydraulic wheel fast and furious upon the completion of each swing. The ship responded very well. When we reached the 30+ degree swings, the Captain/CO acting as Officer of the Deck got up from his Captain’s chair and came over to the ship’s log podium to the left and in front of me to watch me, Apparently satisfied, he returned to his chair and then we were hitting 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, and 43 2/3’s. By then I was praying like never before and thanking all the riveters and others who had built this ship. That was the highest it ever went and I don’t think she would have completed 43 to 44. That all lasted over four hours and the Captain would not allow my relief until the major part of the storm subsided. When I finally was relieved and walking towards my berthing compartment, I was met by people coming out of side compartments, asking me where I was when all the clipboards were sideways? I was 18 and afraid to tell anyone I was the one steering the ship because they might assume that I somehow caused all that. The last thing anyone needs on a Navy ship is for rumors to cause the ship’s crew to come down on them. The next day, a friend of mine and I were up to the outer upper decks to inspect the ship. We got to the top catwalk where the large heavy inflatable lifeboats were stored in steel cages — (today these are made out plexiglass but back then they were steel cages). The forward cage was empty and there were supposed to be three per cage. A few other cages were missing one or two. This would be at least 150 to 200 feet up and all those missing disappeared as though they were never there, no remnants. When we reported this, they said that it would have taken at least a 250 foot wave to do this. Nothing was ever put in my file although I assumed something might have been placed there. Still I carry with me the exhilarating memory of having saved this ship and the 320+ crew, not only me but by the grace of God or someone looking over me. No medal or award could ever take that feeling away even now.

    On another occasion, my friend and I were awakened at around midnight and told that the Captain was requesting us two to come to the bridge. He had a leak in his stateroom porthole and could we repair it? He asked for us because we by then had a reputation for doing the impossible. The ship was passing through the Bering Sea and it had been announced that anyone falling overboard were goners because they would be dead before we could launch a rescue boat. The leak in the porthole could not be patched or fixed from inside so we had to figure out a way to climb out during a storm in pitch dark to the side of the ship far enough to patch the leak. We studied and discussed this and decided to fashion a walk-way out of some smaller lines (ropes). Once out there he was closest and I carried all
    of the materials and tools to do the repair. Several times when the ship swung our way, we were dunked into this freezing salt water slush, hanging on for dear life. Upon completion we were going to put all our tools and things away and then go back to our racks (beds). Instead the Captain standing next to the ship’s log podium, motioned for us to come over there. He said to wait there while he called for the ship’s doctor and we could not hear what they discussed. Within a few minutes the doctor arrived with two large coffee mugs and a jug of rum/whiskey. He poured them to the brim and handed them to us saying that this was twofold, splicing the main brace and to ward off pneumonia. Unfortunately nothing was ever written up in our files so much of this was as though it never happened. There were other things maybe not so notorious, but that was the Navy. Every day was another experience. When people ask me what I did in the Navy, I answer: which day? Then too, there were a lot of 72 hour days, in DaNang loading and offloading personnel, supplies, equipment, etc., in Hawaii because four of us had to paint out the entire side of the ship, and front and back prior to returning stateside because they did not want people to see what she really looked like after a tour in Nam. Got two NJP’s, both for stupidity not mine. These were handed out like candy on the ship and nearly always accompanied fines which replenished the officers coffee fund. Mostly they were like getting a speeding ticked for going 50 in a 60 mph zone. Still these things are kept in a permanent record which none of us knew back then.

    The problem for me and perhaps others, is that it only takes one strategically located individual E-6 who was an habitual drunk but intelligent enough to smile before officers and convince them that he was able bodied. He knew all the records channels and how to systematically remove various things from them or have then re-routed in such a fashion that practically nobody could ever figure out what was what. Prior to the anchor chain incident and the triple TBI’s in less than five seconds, I was leaning towards re-upping and maybe even trying to get into Officer’s Candidate School. In the late 70’s I had a short job where I worked under a National Guard Brigadier General and he wanted to send me to OCS, but then I had to divulge all my disabilities and decline his offer. In fact once he learned of my short/medium term memory loss, he did not even want me to work there any longer. Yet when I took the VA’s memory tests, twice years apart, they said that I averaged around 100 percent but when I inquired of my specific things they said it did not apply to them. I am mostly nocturnal but when someone calls me on the phone in the morning, I can have perfectly good conversations but later may not remember the call or if I do, what was discussed. In my sleep whenever that happens in a 24 hour day, I relive this incident in deep sleep and that is when I go through some sort of memory wipe which randomly erases portions of short and medium term memory which I have no control over, thus post-traumatic selective amnesia. As you can see, I can write for long periods about long term memory things which to me are like yesterday or only minutes ago. I am stuck in that time so that I do remember most of what happened back then except for a few tiny portions of the actual injury incident. I remember during SAR (search and rescue) our picking up a number of downed pilots, and once we were sent to search for any survivors of a Panamanian freighter, Chinese flagged that broke up and sank. There was one brave soul who at night time jumped into hurricane force winds and swells the ocean so fierce and managed to actually get to one of their wooden life boats. We picked him up around three days later about 90 miles from where it broke up and sank. He was beet red but had managed to make a make-shift sail out of his shirt and an oar. I also have pics of some of these things.

    Lastly, as to Vietnam and service there, I have two brothers who are also Vietnam Veterans. The older of the two was there in or around 64/65 to 67/68 and he was on the USS Kearsarge. I have not had the opportunity to talk with him very much and he definitely has some issues. I think he finished 2 or 3 terms in the Navy, then joined the Army where he was booted due to alcohol but he did serve around 15-16 years. My other brother 1 1/2 years older there was in my same HS graduating class but volunteered for the Army around six months after I enlisted in the Navy. Once in 1971 our ship’s Captain requested me to come to his cabin where he informed me that he needed my permission to bring the ship to the deep water pier in DaNang. I thought this had to be some sort of joke but then he explained that I had a brother there and they weren’t supposed to have two brothers in the same combat zone. He said that they had already obtained my brother’s permission and that if I agreed, they would give us each some time off to run around there. I said absolutely, go for it. I knew I had a brother in Vietnam but did not know where until then. Upon mooring, my brother arrived in a deuce and a half truck and we proceeded to drive around the airport and then downtown DaNang. This also happened one other time a few months later and today we both consider these two visits as the highlight of our time over there. We toured each others units so when I took him around my ship, everyone that we passed no matter their rank or status stopped to salute him. I didn’t think that him carrying his M-16 and a bag of grenades made the difference, but … maybe to some. He and I have had long periods of non communication and then other times when we talk regularly. He told me that the 50 ca. barrages that I went through at Quang Tri were actually 51 ca’s. Russia provided the arsenal to the North Vietnamese and they used 51 ca., because that way they could use our ammo if acquired but we could not use theirs. In recent years I wondered why only twice did we connect over there because my ship was in and out of DaNang dozens of times that year. He shared with me that he had spent five months or more in Cu Chi as a tunnel rat and then they pulled him out, sent him to Hawaii for a week and then re-stationed him in DaNang. After his full tour, he got out of the Army about six months before I was discharged. The first time I drove a forklift in DaNang I picked up a large pallet and as I took off, this rather goofy looking animal crawled over the top at me and I could not tell what it was — it was very fat and about 16 inches long, and I noticed others as well. After I delivered the pallet I asked an older sailor what it was and he said it was a cockroach. We worked many different tasks including monorails in the well deck, loading and offloading boats there, loading and unloading conveyors and probably at least another 100 different things. I was a GQ floater assigned to a location immediately after GQ sounded, so worked the big guns, smaller guns, gun directors, magazines, or whatever was called for. I was an FTG (gunfire control tech) but they had no billets so was assigned to Boatswainsmate except still had to work gunnery during GQ. We also saw numerous ports of call in between and most of them were great experiences. The USS Denver served our nation proudly for 45+ glorious years. They did have an accident with a barge around the year 2000 but were repaired over the following year or so and sent back to sea. We were instrumental during the SS Columbia Eagle fiasco in 1970 which was the first armed mutiny in over 150 years, a topic that has had several books written about. For all our Marine guests that traveled or served on her, SEMPER FI !


  10. Jim O'Quinn March 24, 2022 at 9:57 pm

    Lot of negative thoughts and comments on here, lot of bitter guys. Many about the VA. Wonder why? (HO-HO). Answer for that would be, kick all congress out of Walter Reid. Make them go to the closest VA clap clinic an get in line to get their free care.

  11. García Romero Rafael ROBERTO March 24, 2022 at 9:18 pm


  12. ROGER A REINER March 24, 2022 at 6:46 pm

    During the past year, our Congressman invited me to a get-together which turned out to be a dignified “Welcome Home” ceremony for around 20-25 Vietnam Veterans. He called on each person to tell a bit about their service and that was great. I won’t go into my nightmares or ordeals here because this is a day to recognize and be recognized for having served during a difficult time when the entire nation was in a quandary. Always know that in many ways most who served could be recognized for things they did over there, while only a small few actually were recognized. I commend Barney Barnum for being one of those who did get recognized and rightly so. All gave some and some gave all. I used to think that I would never go through that experience again but then I realize that those experiences make us what we are and I would not want to trade that. Those of us who remain simply need to try to display our leadership for the benefit of others who were not able to have those experiences. Youngsters often come up to me out of the blue and Thank me for my service. I graciously thank them for standing up in a crowd to do so, and then walk off as their smiles are beaming and I feel my heart melting. GOD BLESS CHILDREN, AND ALL VIETNAM VETERANS AND THEIR FAMILIES, BOTH HERE AND ABROAD, WHO MUST NOW ENDURE OR PERISH! SEMPER FI!

  13. Steve C. Pierce March 24, 2022 at 6:22 pm

    I served in the U.S. Army, 25th Infantry Division, 3/4 CAV (Tropic Lightening) 1967/1968, Vietnam.
    The VA hospital in Grand Junction, Colorado has provided me with superb health care over many years.
    I salute all Veterans who have served our county in any capacity.

  14. J. Anderson March 24, 2022 at 5:56 pm

    drafted, served (91B 1stCav 72-4), came home to an indifferent nation. still pondering the question of the responsibilities and duties of ‘citizenship’ today, military OR civilian. my unfortunate, oft-surly response to ‘thank you for your service’ is “…and what service may i thank YOU for?…”. best to all here.

  15. Gregory Brussesu March 24, 2022 at 5:41 pm

    Served in USAF in Pleiku 68-69. Got back home and my friends pretty much ignored me. Same with town I grew up in (Huntington NY).

    Fast forward to around 2015. Saw a guy with a Vietnam cap. Walked up to him to shake his hand. He looked at me and said; welcome home. My eyes welled up.

  16. Dr Ronald R Smith March 24, 2022 at 4:50 pm

    This is the first time I have left a comment.

    My name is Ron Smith. and I am a Presbyterian Pastor. I turned 21 crossing the international date line on my way to RVN in 1968. I was an Artillery Officer with both the 9th Division and the 173rd Airborne Brigade in 1968 and 1969. I put my share of body bags on helicopters and was myself evacuated after being wounded in action. I hope my grandchildren never have to go to war and experience all I did, but we all owe our country something. It is indeed a privilege to serve; and while we all know more about the politics of the time than we did then, I consider it was my duty to serve. I have never been spit on, cursed or called names when I returned home and returned to the university. I did not expect a parade or even a thank you for doing my job. Since 1970 I have traveled to all seven continents and I have been in over 80 countries and I can say with all of our country’s problems, and we have them, I am always grateful to touch down in America and have the Immigration and Border personnel say, “Welcome Home”. Hope some of the commenters above and experience a welcome home. Bless you.

  17. LUIS E GIRON-MOREL March 24, 2022 at 3:23 pm


  18. 22kane March 24, 2022 at 2:29 pm

    I’m retired Army with 20 years service. Served 3 tours, Jun 67-Jun 68, Mar 69-Mar 70, Mar 72-Feb 73 as a huey and cobra crew chief. The memories of what I did and saw during my 3 tours doesn’t bother me as much as the chilly receptions and snide remarks I received each time I came back. Being from Hawaii, they always flew me to CA before I could go home on leave. They got it right in 73 when they let me off the plane in Honolulu. SF was worse then LA airport to go thru back then. Imagine flying on standby, in uniform, and having to wait 24 hours or more before you got on a flight. No USO, no friendly faces except for fellow service men.
    My son retired 100% medically in 2014 after serving 12 years as a paratrooper. After 2 tours in Afghanistan and 1 in Iraq, he has severe PTSD. After going through my journey with PTSD, I’m able to help my son navigate his way thru it, not as a father but more as a fellow vet. My daughter-in-law would call me at all hours whenever he has an episode and we’d go thru it together for however long it took to put his demons to rest. It took me over 20 years to finally learn how to accept and live with my demons.

  19. Robert E Gillette March 24, 2022 at 1:45 pm

    I am writing this comment as it pertains to My two brothers, Lance Corporal Edmund Gillette, Corporal Roger Gillette and myself Technical Sargeant Robert Gillette. The three of us are Vietnam Era Veterans. My brothers Edmund and Roger served in the Marines and I served in the Air Force. My brothers served 4 years and 3 years and I served just over 20 years. My brother Edmund also saw combat in Vietnam. I did not see combat but I supported the all of the forces in Vietnam as a photo-lab specialist. My brother Edmund also received the Purple Heart Medal among other medals as he was wounded in combat in Vietnam. I have received 12 medals during my career, for meritorious service rendered. We were honorable discharged from the respective service. I am very proud of my brothers especially since Edmund is now suffering from cancer. It is my belief that he has never received the full recognition and thanks for the service he has rendered. He came to the United States from Belize at the young of 18 years and enlisted in the Marines at age 19. The Purple Heart Medal is a good recognition however it does not provide for a better life financially. I am afraid that he does not have many years left. So I want all who read this, to say a prayer for him, that his suffering be diminished. I praise him as a hero among heroes.

  20. Robert Samson March 24, 2022 at 11:29 am

    I was sent to Vietnam @ 19 years old. I served from June 1972 through closeout in 1973. I never had a gun, only pencil and paper. Without escort I traveled From Camp (Firebase for some) Eagle 5 miles from the DMZ to Can To. In a combat area you worked 7 days a week. I never got even a 1 day in country R&R. I grew up quickly and finished the last of my work at Fort Shafter HI where the records were brought to in April 1973. Traveling the country alone to do my job made me grow up to be who I am. The only thing I ever got mad about was not the “Thank You for Your Service” but the lack of “Welcome Home”. I went to college but could not seem to get a job that matched my skills and schooling. I was invited to return to active duty. I did so and served 4 years reserve and 22 years active. I am an Army Retired First Sergeant. Thank You all for your servcie but most of all “WEL:COME HOME”

  21. David Skillin March 24, 2022 at 11:20 am

    I’m a Vietnam era veteran who served proudly in the USAF who for years hid the fact that I never served in country. That was until I met a Vietnam veteran who served in country. He was collecting data about Vietnam veterans that included where they served in country. I told him that I was a Vietnam era veteran who was made to feel as though I was not worthy of the title of Vietnam era veteran. What he told me changed my outlook on my status as a Vietnam era veteran. He said I answered the call and even though I never served in country I should be proud of my service. From that day forward I became proud of the fact that I served my country. I wear my Vietnam era veteran cap proudly and thank all who served, weather they served in country or not.

  22. Milton Findley March 24, 2022 at 10:54 am

    I am proud to have served three tours, two of them in a mine sweeping outfit on the Cua Viet and another on the gunline. I wear my honors on my $85 ballcap. (All those ribbons don’t come cheap). I am often thanked for my service and my response is a thank you and “keep sending those checks.” Also my Master’s Degree and free medical care for the rest of my life. Public recognition was far too late and my bitter memories as a result preclude my participation in celebrations that mean nothing to me as they amount to a celebration of a stigmatized life after doing the honorable thing.

  23. Stephen D.Gilman March 24, 2022 at 10:39 am

    I entered the Navy n 1968 and volunteered for Nam. I didn’t go my first enlistment partly due to a stabbing in Norfolk that put me in Portsmouth hospital 6 months and 6 months limited duty. My second enlistment was on board the USS Midway from ’73-=76. I was in Frequent wind. I heard that the time frame was correct for Agent Orange because we were Blue water in April 1976. I have few symptoms but do have peripheral nephropathy and minor else. I was told I do not qualify. It has been a year since I did a follow up because I wanted all civilian medical records to be with the VA first. The only way I figure I could have come in contact with Agent Orange is in the preservation of A-37’s and F-5’s the Air Force brought onboard and we (INM-2) was to preserve these aircraft. I do not know if I was infected but I was denied with no testing. Should I continue or drop it. (the VA has listed me permanently injured, not disabled, due to my condition with my hearing and radial nerve laceration) (TAD to IM-2 from VA-93)

    • ROGER A REINER March 25, 2022 at 11:36 pm

      The answer to your question is YES, you should continue to pursue this with VA/VBA. The reason that the VA changed directions in 2020, allowing Navy sailors to claim Agent Orange exposure, actually has to do with 3 or 4 ex-sailors from your ship, the USS Midway which served along with numerous other ships off the coast of Vietnam. What they did was to gather water from the coasts of Vietnam at differing depths and have it independently tested and analyzed. On most of the larger ships we had desalination equipment that enabled ocean water to be filtered of the salt so that we could have fresh water on the ship. Upon this analysis, they were able to prove that the fresh water produced on board these ships and the desalination process, actually not only sucked up Agent Orange (AO), but that it also concentrated the AO 10X (ten times stronger). This meant that anyone on board these ships, crews, officers, Marines, Special Forces, and even visitors were exposed to high levels of AO — we ate residue of AO from dishes washed in this water, drank AO as water, wore clothes washed in AO, showered in AO and likely breathed AO, and this was in addition to the AO that came aboard by other means including boats, planes, helicopters, the mail, etc. Now you know where your peripheral neuropathy (PN) came from and guess what? It is a progressive disease that starts with the muscle and nerve twitches that we all had back then and gradually gets worse, even worse than MS, and there are hundreds of different kinds of PN. If you need to find out a definitive cause, you will need to hunt down a very rare doctor known as a “neuromuscular neurologist” — I searched for one and found that there was one in Fargo, ND, one at the University of CO, and two in the Los Angeles area. There may be more but finding them is only half the battle, because I could not obtain a referral from my VA primary doctor or any others, which you will need in order to schedule an appointment with them.

      I have talked to high officers who served on ships such as ours who have PN as well, and none of us can understand why VA has taken such a position regarding this disease as they have. Initially they denied it completely, but during President GB-II, he announced that the VA was finally going to cover this disease. Yes, they came up with a position that likely 99.999% of those afflicted would not be covered because they state that you must have complained of PN within one year of your last exposure to AO. Let’s see, you must have complained of PN, a disease that was not generally known to the medical community to even exist back then, and within a year of your last exposure to a highly toxic AO which none of us knew anything about until the late 70’s/early 80’s. This to me is extremely unreasonable on numerous grounds. On my ship I actually complained at sick bay but was only handed a handful of valium which was their standard handout for most things. On one occasion the doctor actually told me the muscle and nerve twitching was a symptom of growing pains. They surely did not keep records of these complaints and normally you were in a very long line when they opened their window so you tried to go and get out of there as quickly as possible. Anyway these seemed minor at the time, but who was to know that this would slowly and gradually progress to make some people totally unable to function at times. I talked to a former Navy Captain who is devastated by PN and he could not believe VA would not cover him — I am sure there are many thousands of us out there.

      Why have none of the Veteran Service Organizations, like American Legion, VFW, DAV, and others done anything to attempt to fix this gross oversight? Why did they not recognize this at the time VA took the position they have, and even ignore the issue when brought up to them? Why have none of the elected representatives, US Congress and Senate done anything to correct this? Why did President George Bush II accept the position VA took when he took credit for them finally covering PN when they simply again weaseled out of actually doing so? Many doctors even today say that one can not have PN unless they are diabetic, yet nearly all Veterans and others exposed to the TCDD dioxins of AO have or will have PN, assuming they do not die first of cancers and other things. PN can also evolve into polyneuropathies resulting in conditions that may require removal of toes, later feet, later legs up past the knees and can also start in the hands and up past the elbows requiring their removal as well. One guy I knew from college got numerous of these removal surgeries but died about a year after his legs were finally removed just below the hips. There is a wealth of info available on the internet search engines including a connection of PN being caused by hypothyroidism also now recognized as being caused by AO exposure. I think they are only scratching the surface of all this. Here is only one of numerous examples of a basic search:

      Neuropathy is a Progressive Disease That Gets Worse Over …
      Neuropathy is a Progressive Disease That Gets Worse Over Time. Recognizing the stages of neuropathy and acting quickly to seek treatment can mean the difference between returning to health and losing a limb. Peripheral Neuropathy, like many chronic conditions, worsens over time, and the progressive stages of neuropathy are not always easy to …

      Yet none of the medical people at VA ever discuss what treatment is available. Community doctors are no better often saying they too have PN and that people just need to learn to live with it. Obviously they are at the very early stages of PN.

      The doctors kept telling him-
      “Neuropathy is something you are going to have to learn to live with.”

      I learned by accident that eating eggs helps me to alleviate some of the pains. Using what I call a 6-5-4-3 plan is to first eat six eggs per day for several days, then 5, then 4, and then settle at 3 every day. When I told this to a doctor he asked me what about my cholesterol and that certainly is a consideration, but to me it is like worrying about a window in a building that is burning down. This may or may not work for others but it may be worth a try, especially if one has a more evolved version of PN or one of the autonomous versions that take over natural functions such as breathing, and which require the person to be on a machine every day for the rest of their lives.

      As to your hearing loss, make sure that if you were ever exposed to very loud noises such as large guns, etc., that you also recognize whether or not you have tinnitus as well as hearing loss. I have four different kinds of tinnitus and one of them that comes on randomly actually is like a loud inner ear tuning fork that completely cuts off my ability to hear anything until it ends which can be anywhere from a tiny blip to several minutes.

      Good Luck on your VA pursuit — you sound like a level headed and honest person but that rarely has any bearing on VBA decisions. Depending upon who reads your claim and/or appeals, they may or may not decide in your favor even if you provide it to them in clear, clean, concise and truthful language. Have your ducks in order including any pertinent outside info or documentation, which you state you are already doing. All Navy Vietnam Veterans owe a debt of gratitude to the sailors from the USS Midway who proved the desalination of ocean water and Agent Orange connection, for the benefit of us all. Incidentally, if anyone is ever in the San Diego, CA vicinity, go see the USS Midway which is now downtown there as a Museum. We saw it a few years ago and my wife of 46+ years could not believe what ship life was like. They also have a number of aircraft on the flight deck. Children love it as well. One lady in our group commented how nice the showers were and I said yes, but you only got to use them for a very short while. She said why is that? I told her because you walk in turn the water on to wet yourself down, turn the water off, soap yourself, turn the water on for a rinse and turn it off. We had to be out within a minute so the next person could take their shower. The tour guide just stared at me with his mouth open. I persisted on educating them all the way through the tour and everyone really enjoyed it. You can’t make this stuff up or reveal it unless you have experienced it and that is just a tiny speck of what ship life was like during those trying times.

  24. Gene Engelke March 24, 2022 at 9:30 am

    I just had my 9th skin cancer surgery. We are told it does not fall under Agent Orange. How can Agent Orange cause internal cancer and not skin cancer.
    I served in Vietnam in 1969 and 1970. And what did this Agent Orange do to all the Vietnam people.

    • John Fioroni March 25, 2022 at 6:31 pm

      I too severed in Viet Nam from 1969 through 1970. I too have skin cancer and have been told it is not due to Agent Orange. But, none of my brothers or sister, who spent just as much time in the sun as kids as I did, have skin cancer. The excuse I was given was “Well, we just don’t understand the genetics.”

  25. Tim Speas March 24, 2022 at 8:58 am

    Good morning! Spent 1968 to 1969 in Danang sending supplies to Marines North and South of air base. One night we went on red alert . Was told one night if they get by the Marines we would be last hope. Thank God for Marines and any Army unit in the area, they stopped them !

  26. Dale Sterling March 23, 2022 at 10:31 pm

    I was vilified then and had to hide that
    I was a VN vet for years. Thankfully I was hired by a company that could care less about my history but was cautioned about mentioning my participation.
    So “thank you for your service “ rings hollow to me. And the people that say this are just repeating platitudes that they have no idea of what “service to your country” even entails.

    • Kim Margaret Westphal March 24, 2022 at 9:14 am

      Instead of “Thank you for your service”, I say, “Thank you for your honest statement.” I came after the Vietnam Era, but you guys were my mentors at the ripe age of 18 and still circulate in my memories till this day. Interesting that I served after your era and was still labeled as a “baby killer” by a close relative.

  27. James March 23, 2022 at 10:14 pm

    I have been trying for over ten years to get a 100 percent rating and the VA keeps turning me down. I have PTSD agent orange neuropathy and throidism which the Va dianosised me with and they still will not give me 100 percent

    • Frank Jedrzejczyk March 24, 2022 at 8:50 am

      The Vietnam war is only important to the men and women of the armed forces who were there. There were at least a million of us in the service during that time providing support and receive very little recognition. We are the second class citizens called Vietnam era veterans. It was not possible for all of us to be heroes in the jungle. I was under the impression that mo man left behind. In this case we were left behind in regards to recognition.

      • Bob Boeri March 24, 2022 at 11:00 pm

        I understand your pain. On my return from Vietnam, I was greeted by protesters throwing rocks and bottles, and to an unfaithful spouse.

        • Bill Spanos March 25, 2022 at 5:08 pm

          Is this Bob Boeri from St. Leonard, MD?

    • Robert Morris Coleman March 24, 2022 at 9:35 am

      Brother, don’t give up. It took me a while and the VA don’t just give away 100% without a struggle. You might try a different Service Rep. to help you. Good luck!

    • ROGER A REINER March 30, 2022 at 3:29 am

      James: You may have to have your lawyer prove that you are unemployable. The VA math seems to get real crazy when you get close to 100%.

  28. William Pilacinski March 23, 2022 at 9:58 pm

    I too am a Vietnam vet – 11B with a CIB. Came over on a troop ship with the reactivated 9th Division in late 1966. Our unit, C Company, 2nd Battalion 60th Infantry suffered significant casualties in the Mekong Delta, with one-sixth (35 of 210 TONE strength) KIA in the year we were deployed. When I returned to the US, we were called baby killers and my cousin, a WWII vet, told me Vietnam wasn’t a real war. For my first 3 yrs back, it was too much alcohol and drugs, until, with my wife’s support (but none from the VA), I treated myself. I learned that during WWII Ho Chi Min was our ally against Japan, that we had promised to support Vietnam’s independence from the French after the war, but that we double-crossed him and supported the French return to Vietnam. I learned that while 58,220 Americans, virtually all combatants, were killed, it is estimated that between 1.5 and 3.0 million Vietnamese, Cambodians and Laotians were killed, almost half of whom were non-combatants. I joined the anti-war movement, not demonstrating, but going door-to-door in my neighborhood and talking to folks about my experience; and, using the American democratic process, I became precinct captain for the ‘72 McGovern presidential campaign. My mind cleared enough to use the good from my service to go to college and eventually get a PhD, but I still feel guilty about the 35 of my friends who didn’t make it back and those who did but still suffer the effects.

    Do I feel my service in Vietnam hastened the downfall of Communism? Hardly. If we had not forced Ho Chi Min to seek help from, mostly, communist Russia (China was Vietnam’s traditional enemy; apparently no one in US government at time studied history) because we supported a return of European colonialism, but had helped him, the way we had helped our Japanese enemy after the war, there would not have been a communist threat. As part of my job, I had been back to Vietnam three times. The Vietnamese are a beautiful, kind and forgiving people.

    Some wars may be justifiable, but I doubt any are “good”. Certainly, Vietnam was neither, and the fact that we were forced to fight there is an onus on the political and military leaders of the day. And while I am proud to be an American, for the justifiably significant position it will always have in world history as the first functioning democratic nation, and for the beacon it is, most of the time, for freedom, truth and justice, I am not proud of my service in Vietnam.

    William Pilacinski, PhD

  29. Ed Gaffney March 23, 2022 at 9:51 pm

    On my way to Nam, Colonel (then Captain) Harvey Barnum was my CO in Staging Bn. He was a good man and I’ve always been proud that I served under him. I also ended up, down in the A Shau. It was experienced leaders, such as Capt. Barnum, who got us through that hellhole. Semper Fidelis, Col. Barnum!

    P.S. – having a math problem to verify you deserve to post is (ha-ha) rather unfair to us Marines.

  30. Sandra Wade March 23, 2022 at 9:16 pm

    I appreciate my brothers and sisters that served in VN Boot’s on the ground and those who provided support during the VN era. Although I did not serve boots on the ground the VA recognizes me as a VN Era Veteran. It’s not the same thing, I know that. As a veteran of that Era, I am fully aware the difficulty of attempting to reenter the civilian community.
    Confusing time.

    • ROGER A REINER March 30, 2022 at 3:42 am

      Sandra: Actually that VN era thing is a VA misnomer. I was in the Navy but was blue water, brown water, and boots on the ground, and the VA always begins their decision letters with info stating I was a “Veteran of the Vietnam Era”. When I inquired as to why they did this to me, I was informed that they do this to all Vietnam Veterans, regardless of whether they fought at Vietnam or in country, or if they served in the military at any other location in the world. You would think by now they would recognize the difference but apparently they could care less about that particular technicality, even though it often seems like VA rubbing salt in a wound.

  31. William Cooper March 23, 2022 at 8:52 pm

    So if you have not served in country you are not considered a Vietnam Vpet so therefore you must be a bum and not worthy of any welcome home party

  32. Steven E Holeman March 23, 2022 at 8:37 pm

    Blue-Water Navy Vet – Poisoned through our Water supplies on ship. After two combat tours – Getting treated like we were Dog Crap on the Government’s shoe that needed scraping off didn’t sit too well.

  33. Ruben March 23, 2022 at 8:19 pm

    Thank You all for your service, those who served. Semper Fi. Fellow veteran Marines. Love You brothers, also served in Vietnam. ‘68 ‘69

  34. Thomas Heikkala March 23, 2022 at 7:42 pm

    I was inducted into the Army in January of 1967 and sent to Viet Nam in March of !968 to be with the 199th Lt Infantry for the duration of my 2 years. Upon returning home I felt horrible for having let myself be trained to Kill the Vietnamese. Since then I have done a lot of work to get myself together. After studying the history of the US in all its wars I realized that war is not about ending oppression or liberating anyone. It is, in fact, about securing political control and raw materials for the wealthy corporations to use to make profits, and that that war was a atrocity and holocaust comparable to the nazi holocaust of World War 2, except Americans were the nazi’s of this war killing civilians at random. Don’t ever thank me for my “service,” because it wasn’t a service at all, rather it was a servitude of coercion on Americans for the benefit of greedy and avaricious. And it was not the Vietnam war, but should be known as the American War on Viet Nam

    • Robert Morris Coleman March 24, 2022 at 9:47 am

      Sorry you feel that way. I also felt like we wasted lives in the Nam on both sides. But after maturing ( I was 18 when I was there) I found out that if we had not stood
      up to EVIL (commies) you would be speaking Russian . We stopped the dominos from falling.

    • JMeyers March 24, 2022 at 2:19 pm

      “comparable to the holocaust?” “Americans were the Nazi’s of this war?” Bullsht! Anyone who liberated a village or city- saw and experienced the site of massacre (Hue) knows it wasn’t us, pal! My Vietnamese friends then, still today, know WHO the enemy was from the north and the VC (in case you didn’t know) Sorry you feel the way you do, but you sound like someone who got their battlefield experience from leftist articles. Sorry you were sorry to be there- wasting your time. Sounds like you had no clue as to what was really happening.
      My Marines 2/5, 1st MarDiv- were awesome- and Vietnamese kids would flock to us. We left Marines and Corpsmen in villages around our base to live with villagers, teach them hygiene, water purification, first aid and we emerged with their thanks and relationships for a lifetime. We saw war. It’s hell. Surprise! Many innocents get caught and die. Horrific sights and sounds many of us still battle. Did you make one Vietnamese friend? Share your food with them routinely? Help them in any way? The 199th Lt Infantry Brigade was an honorable unit! Don’t besmirch their valiant record decrying their service. And since Vietnam, the “dominoes” stopped falling because the communist regimes saw the price that would be paid to continue. War doesn’t end wars. They alter geographic behavior. The memory of man is short-lived. The only thing worse than learning from experience- is not learning from it. There’s always a lot to learn… What are you teaching that benefits the following generations…other than damnation!

      • Steve Samoheyl March 25, 2022 at 3:14 pm

        We were in Con Thien, Viet Nam during various operations near the DMZ May -Sept. 1967 , as Artillery support for K Company,3/26 Marines, recovering 1/9 Marines K.I.A. at “The Market Place”.
        Whiskey Battery, 1-12, 3rd, Mar Div., was commanded by several Captains-all gone to the Promised Land now. If it had not been
        for their selfless service to our country; no one would have made it Stateside, I am still grateful for what these brave
        leaders gave to me while in The Corp.
        I am still in recovery and grateful for the life I live today.
        God bless all Veterans!
        Steve Samoheyl, L. Cpl.

  35. Charles D Tackett March 23, 2022 at 7:36 pm

    I am glad that I started the Vietnam Day at the UofM. I never got credit for it and vet groups fought me but all that I wanted was for that day to happen. Also I was Blessed toget the university for their help.

  36. JESSE J REALMO March 23, 2022 at 7:11 pm


    • J.A. wix March 24, 2022 at 6:07 pm

      Two tour combat vet rated 100% by the VA. If I could go back in time I would never have enlisted. Treatment by the VA has been hit and miss. Some good and some very VERY bad.
      If I was not 73 years old I would leave the USA and live somewhere else. This country is now doomed.

  37. Harvey C. Goodchild March 23, 2022 at 6:42 pm

    Thank you for My Service . No Better, no Worse, no More & no Less. We Remember the Fallen & the Wounded while remaining Humble & Grateful. No one was MORE responsible for Us than WE WERE (and we ARE). We Followed at times, & We Lead when required & necessary WE DID WHAT WAS DONE. Vietnam: 1970-71

  38. Billy goggins March 23, 2022 at 6:32 pm

    Made it home in one piece, but took 30 years to get a welcome home or thanks.

  39. London March 23, 2022 at 6:23 pm

    Are they having any gathering withy or for Vietnam Vets.

    I was a combat photographer.

    Nice to meet other Vietnam vets.

    This can help me in many ways.

  40. Sherwood (Woody) D. Goldberg March 22, 2022 at 3:28 pm

    I salute Ed Dauksz for his sharing these two videos as I render a hand salute to Colonel (Ret) Barney Barnum, MOH and the Congressional Medal of Honor Society and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for making these two timely inspiring videos possible on the eve of March 29 when we acknowledge Vietnam War Veterans Day 2022 and pay respects to Vietnam Veterans who gave their all and very best in service to our great nation!

    Woody Goldberg, two tour Vietnam Veteran of the 1st Infantry Division and a soldier of “Bandido Charlie” of the 1/16th Infantry of the Big Red One.
    As we of our division say, “Duty First”as Barney Barnum and many others demonstrated in their service to our great Nation in Vietnam.
    Semper Fi! Go Army!

  41. george breen March 22, 2022 at 1:30 pm

    When I was in the Navy, stationed in Norfolk., civilians left signs on their lawns saying dogs and sailors stay off the lawn. I then realized that if a war was not on, civilians could give a sh– less i for anybody in the service.

    I believe that the only people who care about any veteran is the buddies that served with each other and watch each others back. God bless all military personnel past and future and god bless america………….

    george Breen USN

  42. Christopher M Porras March 21, 2022 at 11:48 am

    My name is Christopher Michael Porras when service Vietnam War 7 years 6 months 3 days on the General told me to get on US Navy broad and First
    Sgt. Porras tell your soldiers on Ship. when I got out Military people told baby kills and you are crazy mad Man. when VA Hospital, not Veteran no go whenever come back again benefits try many times, they told to me call the VA police or city police when catching city Bus after the police came at VA hospital what happed the person, he was mad Angus they did to me catch like the ghost he when away another city get help myself you like help me try getting load told me bad credit you Lier baby kill and crazy mad man …????? if you did not help me tell the head the people all Veterans or news and TV
    VA not good go to VA hospital they told you to go back home ..?????

    • Bob Lee March 23, 2022 at 7:20 pm

      What are you trying to say????

Comments are closed.

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