The Official Voice of Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc. ®
An organization chartered by the U.S. Congress



We welcome letters to the editor for publication in The VVA Veteran. We are interested in your criticism as well as your praise. Letters may be edited for purposes of clarity or space. Regrettably, because of the volume of mail we receive, we are unable to acknowledge or return unpublished material.
They Also Didn't Serve

I found it interesting to see that the Clintons can still generate controversy. During the Vietnam War, people made decisions about where they stood on our involvement. Most of those who were opposed to our involvement, like President Clinton, used whatever means they could to avoid the service.

Here in New York State, I find myself appalled at the conduct of our governor, George Pataki. When he was running for his first term as governor, the Vietnam question came up. He went on record as being an avowed hawk on the war. He wanted to see the bombing increased, the troop strength increased, you name it. Except for one particular detail: He wanted someone else to do his fighting.

Yes, the big hawk did not spend a single day in uniform. Compare that to Clinton, who put his money where his mouth was. He didn't want to go, so he tried and succeeded to avoid military service. Here's the governor of New York State who adopted a "let's you and him fight" stance. Now it appears he is running for a third term. Let's not forget what folks said about Bill Clinton, because it applies just as well in the case of George Pataki: Never Trust a Draft Dodger.

George O'Hagan
East Greenbush, New York

All Are Welcome Home

I received my April/May issue and read the letter on in-country versus era veterans. I would like to say to Vin Faris of Fort Myers, Florida: Brother, you are welcome to come to New Philadelphia, Ohio, and be a member of VVA Chapter 857. We have a mix of members from all branches. All are welcomed with open arms. You may have been setting a mile or two off shore dropping shells on shore batteries, but you, like everyone else, were doing your job. You may have not set foot in-country, but Brother, you were there doing your job and that's what counts. If the chapter you belong to won't accept you because of your job at the time, then I'd tell you to transfer to another chapter or become an at-large member. A final note, Brother Faris: Welcome home and thanks for a job well done.

Terry L. Wood
Via e-mail

Ask A Grunt

In response to Vin Faris from Fort Myers, Florida [Letters, April/May], I'd like to say: Horse Hockey. I spent 21 years in the Navy. I did two cruises off the coast on the U.S.S. Ticonderoga and two cruises off the coast on the U.S.S. Constellation, plus an in-country tour in Helicopter Attack Light Squadron 3. I received my Combat Action Ribbon for that tour. I worked harder and put in longer hours aboard the Ticonderoga than in either of the other two units. Aboard the CVAs we were threatened, but we were never attacked.

You guys on the gun line are not Vietnam-era vets, you're combat vets. You were trained for combat afloat, and you saw combat afloat.

Neither you nor any other deep-water sailor with the Vietnam Service Medal are any less combat vets than any in-country Army or Marine artilleryman or Air Force ground crewman. The Combat Action Ribbon on your chest is the same as that worn by a Marine infantryman and is just as meaningful as any Combat Infantryman or Combat Medic Badge worn by a soldier.

Don't belittle your service. The awards on your chest attest to your service. If you really want to know what your service was about, ask a grunt who was hunkered down in a foxhole listening to naval gunfire support save his butt. Carry yourself proudly, shipmate. You've earned it.

Jim Doran
McHenry, Ill.

Support VS. Field (CON'T)

I served with the 59th Landclearing Company in Nam. I feel that Vin Faris should not let what others say bother him. I know that is easier said than done. Our company looked to the Navy ships for support when our own people could not give us the support we needed. You brothers were as important to my company as anyone. We need to recognize the support that you all well deserve. Many times I have heard this same story from other vets. Whether you were a cook, supply clerk, company clerk, or whatever, you are as important as field personnel.

Leslie L. Lee
Via e-mail

On Land And On Sea

I was in the Navy aboard the helicopter carrier, USS Boxer, which carried 200 helicopters for the First Air Cavalry to Qui Nhon and Anh Khe in 1965. We were not in country, but we were two miles from Qui Nhon Harbor. We were 888 feet of target. I made two trips to Vietnam while on board this ship. I, too, have to agree we don't have the [full in-country] experience to share, and many of us can't get over the feeling that we don't belong.

Also, when speaking of We Were Soldiers [and the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley], I wish more recognition would be shown to the Navy, because it was the Navy that took those troops over to Vietnam in 1965 from Mayport, Florida, through the Suez Canal, 30 days non-stop to reach Qui Nhon.

Guy G. Lefevre
Modesto, California


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