As a USN Seabee stationed in Sigonella Sicily durning the early 1970s, I’ve been careful not to ever call myself a Vietnam Vet. I got off light. Many of my fellow Seabees came to Sigonella after a tour there. I salute and appreciate all my fellow veterans.
I am a Vietnam Combat Vet. Went to Nam sept 1968. Was in the 2/8th Inf Mech 4th Inf division.
I am proud of my service. If asked about my time there, I will share, but I generally don't bring it up.
Laredo, Myself, I generally won't ask a veteran to discuss things. I've found most combat veterans share things when they want. Your're statement has me wondering if I should ask more often. I'll ask what branch of the service they were in and I'll ask where they served but that's about it. I was never in the service but I find their stories and experiences interesting when they choose to share them. Of course if they open a door I'll ask things.
Someone like yourself has a lot of experience to share. While someone like me may not warrant it your family may. But they may be reluctant to ask. It's just my opinion but I think we should share things with other generations so the stories and experiences aren't lost and they have a better understanding of what shaped us and as a result influenced how we handled them. Just a thought. I know we shouldn't share everything, somethings they just don't need to know but we should pass on things.
Its a little different now but for many years we didnt tell people we were in nam. I found in the 80's that if you put vietnam vet on a job application you usually didnt get the job. In 1973 I was wearing a vietnam vet hat and a woman and her son in CT. spit on me and called me a murderer. Nowadays at least some people shake my hand and thank me.
People often mistakenly attribute the outcome of our wars to our troops without digging further and tend to overgeneralize. Vietnam was unpopular and there were plenty of mistakes at the leadership level, with some rare instances of misdeeds on the ground, like all wars. Unfortunately, the politicians moved on and the generals retired, leaving the veteran to face the people. I'd like to believe (hope) that our society has evolved further than that when it comes to Iraq/Afghanistan, where plenty of leadership mistakes were also made and there were some instances of misdeeds. Like Vietnam, the overwhelming majority served honorably and often heroically, so they should continue to be recognized for that as the years go by...I hope.
Then you have the fact that a good percentage of our troops serving in Vietnam were there only because of the draft. The wars thereafter have been attended by volunteers.
Being forced by our gov't to a war run by politicians when you are just a kid out of high school and then blamed for the wars failure upon returning home (if you were lucky enough to survive) makes these veterans hero's all IMHO!
Never served ,born deaf but always respected those who did. Growing up the majority of the men in my neighborhood were WW2 vets . None talked about their experiences including my father. Now I don't know if any in my area who are still alive. Lots of Vietnam vets as they are all in my age range ,late 60s and early 70s .
USN Seabee, stationed at Navy Hospital, Danang Oct-March 1966-67, USN Support Activity, Chulai March- Oct 1967-68. Got tired of seeing all the blood, volunteered to go to Chulai, only to be shot at the first night there!
Hank Schroder was my mentor at Ft. Knox in '72-'73. He was a CPT, I was a brand new 2LT and he helped me along. Then I got a different assignment at Ft. Knox and they hired a couple of ladies to replace me/add to the department. He helped one of them like he helped me, and kept telling her we needed to meet each other. We finally did and he was our Best Man.
Only later did I learn he had the Silver Star for continuing to lead his platoon in a firefight after tripping a booby trap that blew off his left arm and chewed up his left leg. He stayed on active duty and made LTC.
I told him once that I would always wonder how I would have performed in combat.
His answer was chilling:
"It's not worth knowing."