Things you did not know about Vietnam and the Vietnam Wall

This note from a good friend is interesting history about the Vietnam Wall. Also, I just discovered, read, and reviewed a VERY interesting, but little-known, book on Vietnam history. Phoenix and the Birds of Prey. Can it be that both sides have this hard-fought history wrong, and that America “learned” the wrong lessons for our military and foreign policy?

 Comments welcomed, especially from Vietnam Vets.

Here is the book review I posted on Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/review/R3IC0MWZ9BOXJJ?ref_=pe_620760_65501210

***

About the Wall. My best friend from that time, Captain Langford C. Metzger, USAF, is on the wall. I’ll always remember Lang. He was a good man, a trusted friend, and an American hero.

VietnamWallI’ll never forget the first time I saw the Wall myself, at night on a long-ago business trip to Washington. It was dark and, unlike most monuments, the Wall is subtle and understated. It merges into the ground and we had difficulty in finding it.

We saw a faint glow. As we got closer I could see that it was someone lighting matches to read names. A Vet and his son, I think. The night was totally silent. No one spoke. It seemed to be a separate, sacred place.

With me at the time was another friend, a Vietnamese scientist I worked with whose father had been the head of physiology at Saigon hospital. Tran was one of seven children. All of them got out at the end, either to France or America, but his father refused to leave his patients. So the youngest brother was designated to stay with him, and he did.

The Communists took over. They put Tran’s father into a reeducation camp, and his brother stayed to take care of him. For ten years. Finally, his father was released and they came home.

That was long ago now.

Today as I write this, one of the two people from that era most hated by our Vets, John Kerry, is America’s Secretary of State. And the other, Hanoi Jane, is still around, still proud of being photographed on an AA gun that killed Americans.

We signed a peace treaty and our troops came home. America promised South Vietnam continued air support and military aid, but we didn’t keep our promise.

There was this thing called, “Watergate.”

Nixon resigned in disgrace and the Senate, led by Joe Biden, cut off funding for military aid. The result was Communist conquest, followed by “The Killing Fields.”

A Dark Day

A Dark Day

I honor our Vets, and especially our heroes who died there or came back wounded. Vietnam is not over. We lost too many of our best there. We need to do a better job in America at honoring Exceptionalism, our Vets, and our Military.

I comment in some of my Thriller novels that America has not won a war since 1945. There are reasons for that. Reasons we should ponder and address if we expect to enjoy continued freedom and the America we love.

Freedom is NOT free. In Vietnam, 58,000 brave Americans died. Our military won every battle, but the Communists prevailed in the end.

Here are two good links about true history from Vietnam.

Link1 — A short summary of the Vietnam War.

Link2 — Stolen Honor (Full Video).

***

This from a friend who managed Chrysler Plants! All I can say is, “God Bless our heroes and God Bless America!”

When I was the Trenton Engine Plant Manager, our plant and the Woodhaven Ford Stamping Plant brought the “Moving Wall” to our grounds.  It is a replica of the Wall in Washington.  It was there for about a week.  When I was approached about this project I was skeptical because we had to prepare the area for the Wall taking man hours and material away from our business.  I had been so busy with my job I really knew little about the DC Wall let alone the Moving Wall.  After pleading by many of our good employees I relented and agreed to have the Wall on our grounds.

While the Wall was there the vets from both plants would take turns standing 24 hour honor guard duty.  Vets had a computer and they could research a name to tell a family where on the Wall their love one’s name appeared. 

As I walked along the Wall each day and saw parents, grandparents, children of the deceased and friends going to the Wall and touching the name it gave me a great sense of humility and pride for our country plus sadness for these visitors.  Many of these visitors related that they could never go to Washington to see the Wall.  This was especially true of the elderly.  To them Trenton, MI was Washington DC for that day.

As I read the information below I am again reminded of this wonderful week, which I never regretted for an instant, and of those families/friends who wept in front of the Wall, who traced the deceased name on a piece of paper, or just touched the Wall to connect to their fallen hero.

God bless them all and may they rest in God’s heavenly kingdom!!

The Viet Nam Wall–Things you never knew

 A little history most people will never know.

Interesting Veterans Statistics off the Vietnam Memorial Wall

There are 58,267 names now listed on that polished black wall, including those added in 2010. The names are arranged in the order in which they were taken from us by date and within each date the names are alphabetized.

It is hard to believe it is 36 years since the last casualties. The first known casualty was Richard B. Fitzgibbon, of North Weymouth, Mass. Listed by the U.S. Department of Defense as having been killed on June 8, 1956. His name is listed on the Wall with that of his son, Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Richard B. Fitzgibbon III, who was killed on Sept. 7, 1965.

There are three sets of fathers and sons on the Wall.  39,996 on the Wall were just 22 or younger.  8,283 were just 19 years old. The largest age group, 33,103 were 18 years old.  12 soldiers on the Wall were 17 years old.  5 soldiers on the Wall were 16 years old. One soldier, PFC Dan Bullock was 15 years old.

997 soldiers were killed on their first day in Vietnam.  1,448 soldiers were killed on their last day in Vietnam. 31 sets of brothers are on the Wall. Thirty one sets of parents lost two of their sons. 54 soldiers attended Thomas Edison High School in Philadelphia. I wonder why so many from one school.  8 Women are on the Wall. Nursing the wounded. 244 soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War; 153 of them are on the Wall.

Beallsville, Ohio with a population of 475 lost 6 of her sons. West Virginia had the highest casualty rate per capita in the nation. There are 711 West Virginians on the Wall. The Marines of Morenci – They led some of the scrappiest high school football and basketball teams that the little Arizona copper town of Morenci  (pop. 5,058) had ever known and cheered. They enjoyed roaring beer busts.In  quieter moments, they rode horses along the Coronado Trail, stalked deer in the Apache National Forest. And in the patriotic camaraderie typical of Morenci’s mining families, the nine graduates of Morenci High enlisted as a  group in the Marine Corps. Their service began on Independence Day, 1966.  Only 3 returned home.

The Buddies of Midvale – LeRoy Tafoya, Jimmy Martinez, Tom Gonzales were all boyhood friends and lived on three consecutive streets in Midvale, Utah on Fifth, Sixth and Seventh avenues. They lived only a few yards apart. They played ball at the adjacent sandlot ball field. And they all went to Vietnam. In a span of 16 dark days in late 1967, all three would be killed. LeRoy was killed on Wednesday, Nov. 22, the fourth anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Jimmy died less than 24 hours later on Thanksgiving  Day. Tom was shot dead assaulting the enemy on Dec. 7, Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.

The most casualty deaths for a single day was on January 31, 1968 ~ 245 deaths. The most casualty deaths for a single month was May 1968 – 2,415 casualties were incurred.

For most Americans who read this they will only see the numbers that the Vietnam War created. To those of us who survived the war, and to the families of those who did not, we see the faces, we feel the pain that these numbers created. We are, until we too pass away, haunted with these numbers, because they were our friends, fathers, husbands, wives, sons and daughters. 

There are no noble wars, just noble warriors.

Please pass this on to those who served during this time, and those who DO Care.  I’ve also sent this to those I KNOW do care very much, and I thank you for caring as you do. 

 

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2 Responses to Things you did not know about Vietnam and the Vietnam Wall

  1. Pingback: Sitting in the Flames. God Bless our Vets. | Freedom Writers

  2. John Trudel says:

    Everyone in the USofA should read VIETNAMESE IMMIGRANT

    It looks like we did some good after all! On Saturday, July 24th, 2010 the town of Prescott Valley, AZ, hosted a Freedom Rally. Quang Nguyen was asked to speak on his experience of coming to America and what it means.

    He spoke the following in dedication to all Vietnam Veterans. I thought you might enjoy hearing what he said:

    “35 years ago, if you were to tell me that I am going to stand up here speaking to a couple thousand patriots, in English, I’d laugh at you. Man, every morning I wake up thanking God for putting me and my family in the greatest country on earth. “I just want you all to know that the American dream does exist and I am living the American dream. I was asked to speak to you about my experience as a first generation Vietnamese-American, but I’d rather speak to you as an American.

    “If you hadn’t noticed, I am not white and I feel pretty comfortable with my people. I am a proud U.S. citizen and here is my proof. It took me 8 years to get it, waiting in endless lines, but I got it, and I am very proud of it.

    “I still remember the images of the Tet offensive in 1968, I was six years old. Now you might want to question how a 6-year-old boy could remember anything. Trust me, those images can never be erased. I can’t even imagine what it was like for young American soldiers, 10,000 miles away from home, fighting on my behalf.

    “35 years ago, I left South Vietnam for political asylum. The war had ended. At the age of 13, I left with the understanding that I may or may not ever get to see my siblings or parents again. I was one of the first lucky 100,000 Vietnamese allowed to come to the U.S. Somehow, my family and I were reunited 5 months later, amazingly, in California. It was a miracle from God.

    “If you haven’t heard lately that this is the greatest country on earth, I am telling you that right now. It was the freedom and the opportunities presented to me that put me here with all of you tonight. I also remember the barriers that I had to overcome every step of the way. My high school counselor told me that I cannot make it to college due to my poor communication skills. I proved him wrong. I finished college. You see, all you have to do is to give this little boy an opportunity and encourage him to take and run with it. Well, I took the opportunity and here I am.

    “This person standing tonight in front of you could not exist under a socialist/communist environment. By the way, if you think socialism is the way to go, I am sure many people here will chip in to get you a one-way ticket out of here. And if you didn’t know, the only difference between socialism and communism is an AK-47 aimed at your head. That was my experience. “In 1982, I stood with a thousand new immigrants, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and listening to the National Anthem for the first time as an American. To this day, I can’t remember anything sweeter and more patriotic than that moment in my life.

    “Fast forwarding, somehow I finished high school, finished college, and like any other goofball 21 year old kid, I was having a great time with my life. I had a nice job and a nice apartment in Southern California. In some way and somehow, I had forgotten how I got here and why I was here.

    “One day I was at a gas station, I saw a veteran pumping gas on the other side of the island. I don’t know what made me do it, but I walked over and asked if he had served in Vietnam . He smiled and said yes. I shook and held his hand. The grown man began to well up. I walked away as fast as I could and at that very moment, I was emotionally rocked. This was a profound moment in my life. I knew something had to change in my life. It was time for me to learn how to be a good citizen. It was time for me to give back.

    “You see, America is not just a place on the map, it isn’t just a physical location. It is an ideal, a concept. And if you are an American, you must understand the concept, you must accept this concept, and most importantly, you have to fight and defend this concept. This is about Freedom and not free stuff. And that is why I am standing up here.

    “Brothers and sisters, to be a real American, the very least you must do is to learn English and understand it well. In my humble opinion, you cannot be a faithful patriotic citizen if you can’t speak the language of the country you live in. Take this document of 46 pages – last I looked on the Internet, there wasn’t a Vietnamese translation of the U.S. Constitution. It took me a long time to get to the point of
    being able to converse and until this day, I still struggle to come up with the right words. It’s not easy, but if it’s too easy, it’s not worth doing.

    “Before I knew this 46-page document, I learned of the 500,000 Americans who fought for this little boy. I learned of the 58,000 names scribed on the black wall at the Vietnam Memorial. You are my heroes. You are my founders.

    “At this time, I would like to ask all the Vietnam veterans to please stand. I thank you for my life. I thank you for your sacrifices, and I thank you for giving me the freedom and liberty I have today. I now ask all veterans, firefighters, and police officers, to please stand. On behalf of all first generation immigrants, I thank you for your services and may God bless you all.”

    Quang Nguyen
    Creative Director/Founder
    Caddis Advertising, LLC
    “God Bless America ”

    “One Flag, One Language, One Nation Under God”

    For those who understand, no explanation is needed.
    For those who do not understand, no explanation is
    possible.

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