PUPPETS AND FOOLS
The VVA Veteran
is like having all my friends talk to me, like a visit. It's
great. But when I turned to the Letters section in
the November issue, I couldn't believe that veterans would
be trying to make themselves better by putting down other
veterans for whatever reason. In-country, era, the rest of
Asia and Europe--who cares?
Here in this prison, some of the staff say that we are no
longer veterans because we did wrong and came to prison.
Then there are those of us doing time who set values on who
is a better convict by what crime we did or didn't commit.
The prison system loves this mentality because it keeps us
separated, and we don't accomplish anything for our own
I served with the 101st Airborne Division, 230th Artillery,
and was an RTO and later did the FO job with the 1st/327th
infantry, Alpha Company, 1967-68. Let me tell you something:
Veterans are veterans, no matter where you were assigned. It
isn't any big thing being an in-country Vietnam veteran. The
pain of seeing our brothers die and having to kill others
doesn't make us better veterans anymore than not serving in
Vietnam makes you less of a veteran. Arguing over this issue
makes us puppets and fools.
Oregon State Penitentiary
After reading the article
"Adult-Onset Diabetes Added To The List" by Veterans
Benefits Director Leonard J. Selfon in last year's The
VVA Veteran, I started adding things up such as dates
and times of illnesses. I am 54 years old and did not
contract adult-onset diabetes until the age of 51. Having no
family history of diabetes, I thought this was strange.
I served in the U. S. Army in
the 25th Infantry Division in Vietnam in 1969-70 in an area
where I may have been exposed to Agent Orange. I filed a VA
Compensation and Pension Claim in January 2002. In December
I received a letter from the VA stating that the claim for
service-connected compensation was decided in my favor.
I am thankful to VVA for
printing articles such as the one mentioned above,
because--as we all know--the VA is not going to call and
say, "You may have been exposed to harmful herbicides.
Please come in and file a claim." Thank you and keep up the
Kenneth H. Bodine
This is for Marty Cacioppo, who
says ["Letters,'' December 2002] he knows how much wearing
old uniforms and patches means to us. Do you know that we
wear our colors because we are proud that we served? We have
always been patriots. We care less about the negative
feelings that stereotype us. We care about treatment for the
medical and psychological disorders affecting us as a result
of our service in the Vietnam War. We care about helping
homeless vets and cutbacks at the VA Medical Centers.
To say the words, "Welcome home,'' to a Nam vet who has his
or her colors on can only be understood by another Nam vet.
A suit will not hide your emotions; don't worry about what
people think about us. We did our jobs. Marty, you belong to
a very exclusive club. Membership requires that you were
BURY ME IN DRESS BLUES
I would like to respond to Mr.
Cacioppo. I really don't think the sight of many service
persons from several conflicts wearing their uniforms
indicates one way or another who they were or are today
except as may be expressed in the personal pride with which
they present themselves.
We have been used to difficult questions of greater import
than his today--from friends and families, at the schools
where our children have asked us to speak, and with the
questions we ask among ourselves--the great questions of
where we stand today as a nation and what the future may
hold. As for me, I'm thinking about finally getting fitted
for the dress blues I never owned to wear the day I'm laid
to rest, pinned with my ribbons, patched with the stripes I
once wore with
NO MATTER WHERE YOU SERVED
I am a Vietnam-era veteran who
has been an active member of VVA Chapter 32 since
1989. I have been a board member starting in 1990 and have
served in different jobs on the executive board. I'm writing
to let the membership know that from the day I joined VVA I
have always been treated as an equal. There was never
anything said about me not being a Vietnam vet because I
spent three years in Germany as a member of an infantry
division. It has always been that anyone who served during
the years of the Vietnam War, no matter where they served,
is a Vietnam vet.
Queens, New York
In our chapter in Wisconsin, all
the members are pretty good at treating everyone as equals.
But when we go to events that include in-country vets, I
hear a lot of negative things about the guys who never went
to Vietnam. I was on a bomb crew on Guam when we were
bombing Vietnam. We did our jobs with pride to keep the
bombers flying to support the ground troops. We get no
credit for any of the things other support groups did during
the war. In the eyes of a lot of in-country vets, we were
Sometimes I'm tempted to quit the chapter because of the
feelings the in-country vets have towards us. I joined VVA
because I thought I was a Vietnam vet because of the years I
was in the Air Force, 1966-1970. But I guess I'm wrong. I
guess you had to be there to be called a Vietnam vet.
Thank you, VVA, for your
generous donation to the SDIT Vietnam trip. My role in this
historic voyage is that of a widow. My husband, Army Corp.
Anthony Noah Conti, died July 15, 1968, near Pleiku. I will
have a chance to visit the place where he died. I plan to
gather a bit of soil to give to my (and his) grandson some
Your donation will make it possible for us to enjoy several
events, including a dinner, cruise, a reception on China
Beach, and a U.S. Ambassador's reception in Hanoi. A deep
bow to you all.
This is in regard to the letter
"The Image'' by Marty Cacioppo in the December issue. First,
Tom Corey, in his President's Message, states that we are
all veterans and we will stand and remember our fellow
veterans and all who served. Second, I served 22 years in
the Army and Army National Guard, and [Cacioppo] tells me to
leave the fatigues at home next Veterans Day? I earned the
right to wear this uniform on Memorial Day and Veterans Day.
I became disabled for life in Vietnam, so I do not think you
are qualified to tell me how to dress. Maybe you are ashamed
of your service in Vietnam. I'm not and never will be. Keep
your comments to yourself.
I appreciated the article
regarding black officers of the Vietnam War in the
January/February issue, particularly the story of LTC James
T. Bradley who commanded 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry,
"Wolfhounds.'' I was privileged to serve under his command
as the First Platoon Sergeant in Delta Co. in 1969. LTC
Bradley was a fine officer and commander. However, I had
never heard of him being referred to as "Ambush.'' He was
known as the "Bear.'' He wrote a valued official memorandum
for me about a year later while he was serving in the Office
of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. I was saddened to hear that he
had died a few years ago of a heart attack.
Charles Welby Green
DRAFT IN HERE
On January 7, Defense Secretary
Rumsfeld said that those conscripted into the service during
the Vietnam War added "no value, no advantage, really, to
the United States armed services.'' Aside from the obvious
ridiculousness of this statement, there is another, less
obvious, dimension. A great many soldiers, sailors, and
airmen joined the service simply because there was a draft.
Rather than be drafted, they joined so they would have some
choice in how they served.
A GENUINE LEADER
When I saw the cover of the
January/February issue, I was anxious to read what was
written about the late Gen. Davison of the 199th Light
Infantry Brigade. I was a Headquarters Platoon MP. Gen.
Davison was a genuine leader and soldier who was admired by
his men. One morning at dawn while standing guard, the
General appeared at my post, and we proceeded to talk for
about fifteen minutes. It wasn't a General-to-PFC talk, but
more of a soldier-to-soldier or father-to-son-type talk.
The memory of that fifteen minutes and the impact it made on
me is still fresh in my mind today. It should be noted that
after his retirement, Gen. Davison instituted a program
through Howard University to help homeless men in the
Washington, D.C., area. Thank you again for the fine tribute
to a fine man and soldier.
Ronald E. Ball
Your article on wannabes sure hit home. A local group called
the Marion County Vietnam Veterans had statues made and
placed in the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Marion County
Parks in Fairmont. The statues depict three infantrymen: one
holding an M-16, one holding an M-79, and one kneeling after
being wounded. Three guys had the gall to have their names
put on the statues. They were in Vietnam, but they weren't
infantry--they were cooks. Marion County lost 27 men in
Vietnam. The three names carved in these statues not only
take away the honor due the 27, but also glorify wannabes.