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Vietnam 50th Anniversary

Ralph Franklin Posted by Ralph Franklin in Blogs December 5th, 2012
The Tattered Dress, starring Jeanne Crain was the movie they were watching inside the mess tent in Bien Hoa Air Base, Vietnam. The date was Wednesday, July 8, 1959, and darkness had fallen over the base. The first reel had come to an end and they turned on the lights to change reels and all hell broke loose.
 
Guns pushed through the tent windows spraying the hall with a hail of bullets. Guerrillas had been hiding outside the mess waiting their opportunity. Killed were Dale Buis and Chester Ovnand two military advisors who thus became the first casualties of the Vietnam War.
 
The Wall

TAD would like to pay tribute to the men and women who fought and died in the War on this 50th anniversary. We also would like to salute the combat cameramen whose images America watched during this conflict. 

Between 1962 and 1975, military photographers from the United States Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force took millions of photographs of this American conflict. Almost a quarter of a million of these images are now located at the National Archives. (Wire service photogs from the AP and UPI were also active and in harm's way.)

In July 1980, President Jimmy Carter signed legislation to provide a site in the Constitution Gardens close to the Lincoln Memorial for a Vietnam Veterans Memorial; and the nearly $4.5 million cost of building was raised through private donations.
 
Horst Fass (top) photos
from the Vietnam War
On the morning of Friday, Nov. 11 1988, President Ronald Reagan made the dedication speech. There was  thunderous applause when the President said, "Perhaps at this late date we can all agree that we’ve learned one lesson: that young Americans must never again be sent to fight and die unless we are prepared to let them win."
 

 

On May 28, 2012, at the the  Memorial, President Obama spoke commemorating the 50th Anniversary. The president concluded by saying,

Veterans, families of the Vietnam War, I know the wounds of war are slow to heal.  You know that better than most.  But today we take another step.  The task of telling your story continues.

"The work of perfecting our Union goes on.  And decades from now, I hope another young American will visit this place and reach out and touch a name.  And she'll learn the story of service members—people she never met, who fought a war she never knew—and in that moment of understanding and of gratitude and of grace, your legacy will endure.  For you are all true heroes and you will all be remembered."  

The Memorial contains 58,195 names of fallen heroes.
 
In our research we found a letter from an unknown Vietnam vet, plus footage from YouTuber mikeyp0131 and a collection of still photos from two-time Pulitzer Prize Winning AP photographer, Horst Fass.
 
Here is the letter:
 
"Somehow it is hard to believe that the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War is about to be commemorated. I guess it is about time for the 50th anniversary if you go by the little attachment on the Vietnam Campaign Medal that says 1960. Maybe the armed forces should authorize a new attachment which reads 1960–1973.
 
"I did not realize until I looked at a history site on the web that the Vietnam War was (then) the longest war in US history. It certainly seemed like the longest war I was ever in. From my point of view I would say that war really started in 1965 when the first major army unit, the 173d Airborne Brigade, deployed from Okinawa to Bien Hoa. I know we had 15 or 16,000 military advisers there by 1965, but from my point of view the real war starts when you deploy your TOE units.
 
"I guess for all of us veterans of the Vietnam War you have a tendency to divide your life into two categories: before Vietnam and after Vietnam. Before Vietnam, life was pretty carefree; after Vietnam, each veteran had a different experience, which did not start with a warm fuzzy. Most of us from the south just came home and went back to work, for others it was a hell of a lot more difficult…but that’s not the point here.
 
"The point is, if you were a Vietnam veteran can you really believe in its 50 years after the Vietnam war? Well actually 2013 will be the 50th year after the fall of Saigon. The Department of Defense was authorized in 2008 to conduct a Vietnam War 50th anniversary commemoration program. If you go to the website VietnamWar50th.com you will not see much. Even the number of links to veterans Associations is pretty pitiful. But then I sound like an old man grousing, but what the hell, I am an old man now.
 
"So what do I think about the 50th anniversary of Vietnam? I think we should commemorate it whenever we see a Vietnam veteran by saying, “Welcome home, thank you for your service!” At least we can say it to each other." — Author Unknown.
 
Welcome home guys, all of you and thank you for your service.
 
TAD Staff

 

 

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