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Balint, Thank you. In spite of all you may have heard about cynical, bitter Namvets - and there's no shortage of them and I passed through that territory myself - many of us did have that very hope you describe. We may - or may not have - been naive; we may - or may not have - been duped; it may - or may not have - been all for naught. But there was a hope. One can go up on Chicago's Argyle Street and find the South Vietnamese flag everywhere, and Vietnamese who speak well of the Americans.
Toggle Commented Mar 30, 2017 on The Virtual Wall at Sic Semper Tyrannis
Colonel Lang, I can’t claim that honor. It was I to whom recon - in my case, Marine Corps Force Recon teams - called in their targets; I was an artillery Fire Direction Control operator. Kilo 4/11 is the designation of my old arty unit, Kilo Battery, Fourth Battalion, Eleventh Marines. We shot the M 109 155 mm SP howitzer; probably the A1 or A2 version since we had 20 click range. The call signs of our Recon teams were kind of literary: I remember Parker Pen and Night Scholar. They kept pretty quiet on the radio and we never called them lest the noise give them away; we waited for them to call us, or we would just press the squelch button to let them know we had something to tell them. Years later I met a former Recon sergeant at a Vet Center discussion group. It was quite a moment, even though he’d been attached to Third Marine Division and I to the First. I went to the Wall on the day it opened and President Reagan came out and addressed us. That was the time he referred to the war as a noble cause. He spoke softly and a wind blew some of his words away, but I heard those two. It was good to hear; music to mine and no doubt to many others’ ears, though bittersweet. I couldn’t find any names I knew, which was not as good as it sounds, for I knew there had to be one; the sergeant who led the night ambush patrols around our hill. He’d been killed on a night I hadn’t gone on patrol, for what reason I can’t recall; it was a volunteer detail. So at the Wall, I learned that I had forgotten his name. Somehow this made it worse. I never went back, either.
Toggle Commented Mar 30, 2017 on The Virtual Wall at Sic Semper Tyrannis
Well for me, my opposition - ambivalence, really - to the wall and its designer evaporated upon first contact. I don't see how anyone can get up close and personal with it and retain animosity. You see the visitors, their respect, even reverence; and the children standing weeping before some name ... Then they came out with the statue depicting the three grunts in jungle fatigues, one with the towel draped over the back of his neck, the one in the middle limping and held up by the other two. That soothed me some more.
Toggle Commented Mar 28, 2017 on The Virtual Wall at Sic Semper Tyrannis
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Mar 28, 2017