March 29, National Vietnam War Veterans Day
By Robert “Bob” Kickenweitz
President Donald Trump signed the Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act of 2017 on March 28, 2017, to establish a day of national observance. This day is a way to thank and honor our nation’s Vietnam Veterans and their families for their service and sacrifice.
“All Gave Some - Some Gave All” is often quoted about Vietnam Veterans. 2.7 million U.S. service members served in Vietnam, of that number 58,318 (as of Memorial Day 2017) whose names are memorialized on a black granite wall in our Nation’s capital, made the ultimate sacrifice, 304,000 were wounded and we still have 1,611 missing in action after all these years.
Vietnam was a unique war in American history. First as a veteran you had to fight the Viet Cong, then the North Vietnamese Army, then the triple canopy jungle. It had a dry season that made the soil a red talcum powder substance that stained your skin red, and a wet season that made red talcum powder into a brown chocolate pudding that stuck to everything. Vietnam has bats the size of turkeys, centipedes two feet in length and some of the most deadliest snakes on the face of the earth. We were told not to worry about Agent Orange since, “it only kills the vegetation.” It has a climate where temperatures ranged anywhere from ninety-six to a hundred and six in the area I was in, and higher in other regions of the country.
After facing all of that for a year, then you had to come home to a country that was calling you baby killers, and some of my brothers were spat on in airports because they had their uniforms on. But you know, at the end of the day, after all that we still love this great country of ours and have said “Never again will a returning veteran from any war that the United States of America is in will have to face what we faced.” They will all be welcomed and thanked for their service to this great country.
If you have a group of people you can always tell which of them are Vietnam Veterans. They will be the one that are balding or gray haired that look up when they hear the wop, wop, wop sound of a helicopter. That sound reverberates in their memory to a time passed, when to them represented someone coming to pick them up, or receiving ammunition, fuel, water, the removal of their wounded or dead, maybe a hot meal and mail call. People often ask veterans “When were you there?” Don’t be surprised if the answer comes back as “I was there last night.”
Veterans meet in a store or on the street they always greet each other with
“Welcome Home.” Now you may ask “Why?” It’s really very simply, when they
returned home nobody ever said that to them. So should you see a Vietnam Veteran
someday, how about saying “Welcome Home, Thank you for your service.” I’m sure
it would be truly appreciated.
Served with the Legendary 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, in South Vietnam
October 1966 – Sept 1967