Letter: Vietnam Veterans Day honors service

Posted 3/17/22

To the Editor,

On March 29, 2012, President Obama proclaimed March 29th as Vietnam Veterans Day. The proclamation called upon “all Americans to observe this day with appropriate programs, …

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Letter: Vietnam Veterans Day honors service


To the Editor,

On March 29, 2012, President Obama proclaimed March 29th as Vietnam Veterans Day. The proclamation called upon “all Americans to observe this day with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities that commemorate the 50 year anniversary of the Vietnam War.”

On March 28, 2017, then President Trump signed the Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act of 2017. This act officially recognizes March 29th as National Vietnam War Veterans Day. The act also includes March 29th among those days on which the US flag should especially be displayed.

March 29th was chosen as National Vietnam War Veterans Day because on that day in 1973, Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV) was disbanded, and the last US combat troops departed the Republic of Vietnam. The last unit was an element of MACV’s Infantry Security Force (Special Guard).

Lasting from 1955 to 1975, the war engulfed the Southeast Asian country of Vietnam as well as its neighboring countries of Laos and Cambodia. The US began its military involvement to assist the South’s effort to quell the Communist onslaught, which at the height of the Cold War, was feared to promote the spread of communist ideology and influence worldwide. Although US Military advisors had been in South Vietnam since 1955, the Presidential Proclamation states that January 12, 1962, was the starting point of the war. This is the date when America’s first combat mission, Operation Chopper, was launched. The conflict ended in 1975 with the fall of Saigon and the victory of North Vietnam.

Today, the Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that we are losing nearly 500 Vietnam veterans per day. Retired Army Major General Jim Jackson states, “We must act now to do what should have been done 50 years ago, and that is to say, ‘thank you.’”

Nearly 3 million Americans served during the Vietnam War. The Presidential Proclamation further states, “Eleven years of combat left their imprint on a generation. Thousands returned home bearing shrapnel and scars; still more were burdened by the invisible wounds of post-traumatic stress, of Agent Orange, of memories that would never fade. More than 58,000 laid down their lives in service to our Nation. Now and forever, their names are etched into two faces of black granite, a lasting memorial to those who bore the conflict’s greatest cost.”

Today, our obligation is to show all who have worn the uniform of the United States military the respect and dignity they deserve and to honor their sacrifice by serving them as well as they served us. Half a century after those helicopters swept off the ground and into the annals of history, we pay tribute to the fallen, the missing, the wounded, the millions who served, and the millions more who awaited their return. Our Nation stands stronger for their service, and on Vietnam Veterans Day, March 29th, we honor their proud legacy with our deepest gratitude.

In addition to the Presidential Proclamation, there are also proclamations observing Vietnam War Veterans Day in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and all five US territories.

Significant Battles

The Battle of Ia Drang, which took place November 14-18, 1965, was the first major battle between the US Army and the North Vietnamese Army (NVA). It took place in the Central Highlands of South Vietnam. The battle saw the first use of large-scale helicopter assault and Boeing B-52 Stratofortress strategic bombers being used in a tactical support role.

The Battle of Khe Sanh took place in northwestern Quang Tri Province in South Vietnam, from January 21 to July 9, 1968. The main US forces defending the main Khe Sanh Combat Base from a much larger enemy force consisting of three NVA divisions were two USMC regiments supported by elements from the US Army, Air Force, and South Vietnamese soldiers.

The Battle of Hue occurred within that same time period, January 31 to March 2, 1968. The battle was a major military engagement which was part of the larger Tet Offensive launched by the NVA and Viet Cong. After initially losing control of most of Hue, a major city in South Vietnam, the combined South Vietnamese and American forces gradually recaptured the city after more than a month of intense house-to-house fighting.

Besides ground actions, there were also air campaigns, with one of the most significant being Operation Rolling Thunder. The operation lasted from March 2, 1965, to November 2, 1968, and involved a sustained aerial bombardment by US and South Vietnamese air assets against targets in North Vietnam. The operation was designed to halt enemy supplies from reaching South Vietnam.

In 1972, another massive bombing campaign was conducted against North Vietnam, known as Operation Linebacker.

Please, please mark your calendars now, as a reminder that on September 8, 2022, “The Wall that Heals,” a 3/4-size replica of the National Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C., will visit our community. Make plans now to visit the Wall and the accompanying “Education Center” during its brief visit to Warrenton.

Gary Ruebling

Letter to the Editor


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