Three former Soviet veterans of the Vietnam
War will attend Vietnam Veterans of America’s biennial National Leadership
Conference, to be held in Tucson, Arizona, July 12-16. The men were Soviet
advisers in North Vietnam during the conflict and have been helping VVA and
the United States Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office in their
efforts to account for American service members missing in Southeast Asia.
VVA learned in 2005 of an organization in the city of Kharkiv, Ukraine,
consisting of veterans of the Vietnam War who served as Soviet advisers and
air defense specialists in North Vietnam. VVA representatives have traveled
to Ukraine to meet with these veterans on three occasions since November
2005 and have developed a relationship that continues to grow.
During each visit, Ukrainian veterans have provided VVA with photographs and
fragments of downed American aircraft, documents and combat reports about
the shoot downs of American aircraft, and information concerning American
prisoners of war. Additionally, these veterans are helping U.S.
representatives gain access to previously classified Ministry of Defense
records that VVA hopes will help account for some of the more than 1,800
Americans who remain in Southeast Asia. The Ukrainians will make
presentations on the Soviet adviser’s role in North Vietnam and joint
research initiatives underway in Ukraine.
This visit has been made possible because of generous donations from the
Buckeye Foundation, the Vietnam Veterans Peace Initiative, and VVA’s Eastern
New Jersey Chapter 779. Additionally, VVA learned of a sister-city program
established in 1989 between the cities of Cincinnati and Kharkiv, Ukraine.
To support this initiative between our two nations, VVA, VVA’s Cincinnati
Chapter 10, and the city of Cincinnati will sponsor a two-day visit to the
city following the Leadership Conference. Cincinnati is providing domestic
air travel and will play host to the Ukrainian delegation during their visit
to the midwest. The trip will include a stopover in Washington, D.C., to
lay wreathes at American veterans memorials.