Georgia to honor Vietnam veterans

David Epps's picture

At 11 a.m. Tuesday, March 25, in the North Wing of the state Capitol, Governor Nathan Deal will issue a proclamation declaring March 29, 2014 as Vietnam Veterans Day in Georgia.

The theme of the ceremony, which falls on National Medal of Honor Day, is “A Tribute to Georgia’s Vietnam Medal of Honor Recipients,” and the Georgia Department of Veterans Service will individually recognize each of the state’s 12 native sons who were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War.

“Vietnam veterans deserve our sincere respect, appreciation, and public recognition,” said Georgia Department of Veteran Services Commissioner Pete Wheeler. “We gather to honor the brave Georgians who served in that conflict and we honor the service of every man and woman who put on a uniform and answered their nation’s call to service.”

An estimated 254,000 Georgia residents — approximately one-third of the state’s total veteran population — are Vietnam War veterans. As the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War begins, it is fitting — and long overdue — to pay tribute to the service and sacrifices of these brave men and women.

The following are Vietnam War facts and figures:
• 8.7 million Americans served on active duty
• 7,391,000 Vietnam War veterans are alive today
• 228,000 Georgians served
• 1,584 Georgians were killed in action
• 8,534 Georgians were wounded in action
• 21 Georgians were held as prisoners of war
• 35 Georgians are still missing in action or otherwise unaccounted for

When the first Gulf War began, the church I served honored the two men from our congregation who served in Iraq. Later, on July 4th, we began a tradition of asking every veteran from all services and all conflicts, including the Cold War, to come forward and be recognized. That year, and every year following, the veterans received a standing ovation.

After the first recognition, I received a phone call from the wife of an Army vet who served in Vietnam. She said he went home from church and cried all day.

I said, “Oh, I am so sorry.”

She said, “No, don’t feel bad. He was so overcome because it’s the first time anybody ever said ‘thank you’ for his service in Vietnam.”

The Vietnam veterans were every bit as courageous, heroic, patriotic, and honorable as any other vet in any other war. They did their duty. They were faithful. However, they were the people betrayed by many of their fellow countrymen and the politicians. They won the battles. America lost the war.

When the two young men at our church were returning from the first conflict in the desert, a lady at church asked me, “Do you think they will be treated like the Vietnam veterans were?”

“No,” I said.

“Why not?” she inquired.

“Because,“ I replied, “these are the children of the Vietnam veterans. They will never allow it to happen again.”

And they haven’t. As the Vietnam Veterans of America have long stated, “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”

58,286 U. S. military personnel died in Vietnam. 153,303 were wounded in combat. They have long deserved our respect, our admiration, and our appreciation. It’s about time that they are recognized as the heroes they are.

[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, Sharpsburg, GA (www.ctkcec.org). He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese which consists of Georgia and Tennessee (www.midsouthdiocese.org) and the Associate Endorser for the Department of the Armed Forces, U. S. Military Chaplains, ICCEC. He is a Vietnam-era Marine Corps veteran. He may contacted at frepps@ctkcec.org.]

PTC Observer
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"Abandoned" veterans

I am not sure what the Vietnam Veterans of America mean by the "Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another."

As a veteran, I for one never felt abandoned by my fellow veterans, certainly not by the veterans of WWI, WWII and Korea. On the contrary, my father and all of his friends from WWII and Korea were nothing but supportive but concerned. The veteran down the street, who was very old at the time and fought in the Spanish American War, was supportive. Proud to take his young neighbor in uniform out to a movie where people sneered at us both. No Pastor Epps, they all were brothers in arms and never abandoned us. If the veterans of Vietnam were abandoned, they were abandoned by the American people not other veterans. They were abandoned by fickle politicians but never by our brothers.

So, I think Pastor Epps if this is what the VV of America believes, they are totally misguided, or maybe they simply need to learn to skip the self developed "cliches". Let's stop with all the self serving BS, our country called we answered, that's it. It's the guys that never came back that are the heroes and should never be forgotten.

IMHO

tgarlock
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PTCO, David Epps is not wrong

Just a few bits and pieces.

One example is Bill Stanley in Marietta, retired cop who can tell you of his fellow cops who were WWII vets telling him their war stories but didn't want to hear squat about Vietnam.

Skip Bell, also in Marietta, remembers WWII vets who didn't think much of Vietnam, a mere "police action," parroting TV news.

If you want details, read BG Burkett's Stolen Valor for how the Amer Legion and VFW orgs responded to fundraising efforts to build a Dallas memorial to Vietnam war dead. If you want the short version, send me an email and I'll send it to you.

If you want names I can provide some with examples of their experience trying to join the Amer Legion and VFW in various states and receiving variations on "We don't want your kind." Not all had that experience but many did.

In 2005 I was having a custom stretch golf cart built by Jenko in Jenkinsburg, east of Griffin and east of 75, and while there one day an older man I didn't know was telling a story of his WWII days as a fighter pilot engaged in close support of ground troops in combat. I told him I felt a little kinship with him from my days as a helicopter gunship pilot in Vietnam engaged in the same ground support combat, but his response was to look at me like something on the bottom of his shoe and walk away.

Not all vets of prior wars drank the anti-war koolaid and believed the stories that American troops in that war were either inept or depraved, but many did. They were part of the public, too.

I can also tell you a few stories about those older vets coming to our aid, like the 101st vet who survived Normandy diverting a 101st Captain returning from Vietnam, rescuing him from certain trouble after hippies in the San Francisco airport spat at him. The WWII vet bought the Captain's dinner and swapped tales while he cooled down.

I can also put you in touch with a number of Vietnam vets who vow "never again" will American troops come home to a lousy welcome, not while we are alive.

All this is not bo-hoo whining, just facts. I'm glad your experience coming home was a good one, but many vets got the cold shoulder from vets of prior wars.

Having said all that, I don't get excited about parades or ceremonies or new holidays trying to make up for the past, but that's just me. Seems like trying to patch up a ship that sailed decades ago. I wish the participants well but it isn't my cup of tea.

My activism is teaching high school kids what really happened in Vietnam. The popular version is crap, the truth is quite bad enough, and it is a great example of how propaganda takes root, how a young person needs to learn to think for themselves lest they be led by the nose by the TV news propaganda machine.

I tell them it is pretty hard for our country to learn the lessons of Vietnam when the truth is still hidden in a tangle of myths, half-truths and political agendas. I also tell them the best way for them to stay informed is to read two good newspapers, one that leans left, like the AJC, and one that leans right, like the Wall Street Journal, to augment their dose of TV news.

Pardon me, I got carried away. David Epps is not wrong.

Terry Garlock

PTC Observer
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Mr. Garlock - I

I didn't experience any of this by other veterans, I suppose that's because my father being retired military WWII and Korea surrounded himself with like kind veterans. They were all supportive and really good guys. Today when I meet a veteran and they talk about their time in the war or during the war, I just let them talk. Usually, I walk away and they never know I am a veteran too.

Since the war, I have chosen not to get involved with veteran groups, I have been asked on a number of occasions to join. I just don't see much point in it.

There isn't any black and white in this I suppose, we all cope in our own ways with the war, its memories, its outcome and its wreckage.

You teach kids about it and it's a big part of your life and who you are, I quietly live my life knowing I am very lucky to have been able to live it in one piece.

BTW, I didn't say exactly that my homecoming was that great, it wasn't bad from veterans, but having your CO tell you not to go home and wear your uniform, well you know why don't you? I was always proud to wear it.

tgarlock
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PTCO, I understand . . .

. . . and I, too, was one of those who kept it to myself and never participated in a single veteran event for over 30 years, until I had kids late in life and began to wonder what manner of crap they would learn in school about Vietnam and the guys who fought that war. It is a personal thing but that's when I got involved with fellow vets and writing and teaching classes.

BTW the 101st Captain I mentioned, James Oram from Berwin PA, had been advised not to wear his uniform home from Vietnam but as a proud Airborne Ranger he refused to compromise, which nearly got him in trouble until he was rescued by the WWII vet. I also remember in 1971 being directed by my CO to instruct my men not to wear a uniform off-base for their own personal safety, and that was in Alabama.

A lot of vets keep all this stuff to themselves so you are in good company.

Terry Garlock

Davids mom
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The Viet Nam vet

The tragedy I witnessed was the incompetent treatment they received for their mental health after Viet Nam. Too many families suffered from this incompetence . I hope our more recent vets are receiving better support.

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