I have been reading
the "Letters" portion of The VVA Veteran with some interest
in the feelings members have concerning their service during the
Vietnam War. Those of us who never served in a combat zone were
aware that we could be called upon to do so. We also were witness
to what was going on in this country; the protests and the
political fallout. Often we were ostracized by our enlightened and
free-spirited peers, particularly while in transit.
When veterans congregate, we are
somewhat left out because we never went. I've suffered survivor
guilt, but I also have much to be thankful for. My hat's off to
those who were able to keep it together in a war zone, but I also
know the effect that service to one's country has on appreciating
what we all share. We should all be for the common cause of
veterans rights and entitlements, and we should keep them sacred
for those who come behind us. In that way we are all brothers
united. It is the reason for my membership in VVA.
THE BEST EVER
Thanks for the special November
issue, the most outstanding issue of The VVA Veteran that I
can remember. I am a Life Member of VVA who lived in Washington,
D.C., the year The Wall was dedicated. The article on the
volunteers who man The Wall was outstanding. I have visited
it twice. On each visit, the volunteers have assisted me in some
fashion. They should know, and be told, how much we veterans
It is comforting to know that there
is someone there to assist you with names and to offer a kind
word, a helping hand, and sometimes a shoulder to lean on. I know
it is a tough job, but God bless them for their daily efforts.
Thank you for allowing them to express themselves to us through
The VVA Veteran, the best veteran newspaper ever printed.
Alvin E. Thomas
I just finished reading the USS
Liberty article in the September-October issue. There have
been few times when the written word has failed to come to my
assistance to express my thoughts and feelings regarding the
USS Liberty. This is one of those times.
"Thank you" seems so inadequate and doesn't come close to
appreciation for the article. If there is a word in the English
language that does adequately express that appreciation I don't
know what that word is.
Joe Meadors, Vice President,
USS Liberty Veterans Association
NOT A COMBAT JUMP
Your article about combat
photographer Catherine Leroy in the September/October issue was an
excellent and informative piece. However, you perpetuate the MACV
fairy tale about the "only combat [parachute] jump of the Vietnam
War,'' Operation Junction City, 1967.
Indeed, the 173rd Airborne made a
parachute jump in Vietnam in 1967. However, having qualified for a
parachute badge myself in 1966, I am fully aware of the hostile
conditions involved in a combat jump. That jump could hardly
qualify by any stretch. In reality, it was merely a "combat
equipment jump,'' like the fifth jump at Ft. Benning's Jump
When the 173rd jumped during
Operation Junction City, the DZ had a banner on it which said
something like, "This drop zone provided by the 1st Engineers.''
That's because units of the 2nd Brigade of the 1st Infantry
Division had swept the area for three days prior and had a
defensive perimeter around the DZ. I watched the jump from the
ground with amusement as FDC for 81mm mortars with the weapons
platoon, C Co., 2nd/18th Infantry of The Big Red One.
I am a Vietnam veteran, a VVA
member, Director of Events for the State Council of Idaho, and an
ex-Navy Radarman. I served from June 1964 to June 1968. I spent
two nine-month tours on a 150-foot, wooden-hull minesweeper en
route to, on station, or en route home from Vietnam. I feel this
organization, and others that profess to help veterans, should
address the issues of the veterans who served their country on
Unless you can prove that you have
set foot on the shore of Vietnam, you cannot claim Agent Orange as
a cause of your disability. But the wind blew the spraying in the
water off shore. This oily, diesel-coated spray floated down the
rivers and into the waters off the coasts. The same with the wind.
Another problem the sailors have is
PTSD. Unlike in-country personnel, we could not do anything to
help injured soldiers without an order from above. We just had to
sit and listen to the radio. Other issues that sailors have need
to be addressed. Don't you think it is about time you make an
effort to answer these problems? A lot of Naval personnel feel
that we are second-class military personnel. What can you do to
rectify this problem?
Gene E. Reinbolt
Idaho Falls, Idaho
ACTION ON THE LIBERTY
Can you imagine my surprise when I
opened the September/October issue to find a lengthy article on
the Liberty disaster? Not since the failed attempt at the
1985 National Convention to get a resolution passed condemning the
incident and asking for an inquiry by Congress have I seen any
mention of it in official VVA circles.
Now that the die is cast, I await
word of movement by our national officers to put the full faith
and effort of our organization to bear on Congress when it
reconvenes in January to get an inquiry started. I hope you will
stay the course and bring closure to this most odious chapter in
our military history.
Donald C. Frisco
I read the article by Bernard
Edelman in the November issue. Two sentences caught my mind. The
first was, "The unfortunate stereotype of the whacked-out, Vietnam
vets-as-victims or dysfunctional baby killers warped by what they
had seen and done in Southeast Asia emerged and gained prominence
in the media.'' The second was, "Many veterans, though, were
ashamed even to admit that they had served.''
First, today's media is run by
people who lean towards the liberal side of the political
spectrum. These people still want to portray the Vietnam veteran
as that whacked-out, dysfunctional baby killer.
So tell me, please, why do Vietnam
veterans still insist after all these years in perpetuating this
image by dressing up in old uniforms that no longer fit, covered
with pins and patches? All this does is reinforce the image. If
there were a hundred well-dressed Vietnam veterans and one dressed
in his camouflage fatigues moaning, groaning, crying, and rolling
on the ground in front of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, who do
you think will make the network news?
It's time to dress respectable.
Would you wear fatigues to church? A parent's funeral? Look at
photos from World War II and Korea veterans reunions. Do you see
any uniforms? No. The war is over for them. And it's over for us,
too. We've been home for 30 years or more. Let's put the war
It bothers me to write this,
because I know how much wearing these old uniforms and patches
means to many of us. Let's just leave the fatigues at home next