On this Vietnam Veterans Day, “Welcome Home”

photo by Greg Lincoln

by Henry J. Hunter Sr.

The Vietnam War was the longest war in American History up until the 21st Century. Between the years 1964 to 1975 American forces fought to prevent the growth of Communism. Most men and women who went to Vietnam had to serve in country for 365 days.
The Vietnam War was a conflict between the Communist Government of North Vietnam/Viet Cong who lived in South Vietnam against South Vietnam and their ally, the United States. The aim for North Vietnam/Viet Cong was to unify the entire country under a communist regime. By 1969, more than 500,000 U.S. Military were stationed in South Vietnam. On the other hand, the Soviet Union and China poured in weapons, supplies and advisors into the North.
During the Vietnam Conflict, the Defense Casualty Analysis System recorded 58,220 U.S. Military fatal casualties. Of these numbers, over 40,000 men and women were killed in action. 18,000+ were M.I.A.s, struck with illnesses, suicides, etc.
Back in the United States the Vietnam War became unpopular; too many Americans were being killed or wounded. The Vietnam War, I believed was a political war, because there were too many borders we, as soldiers, could not cross to engage the enemy.
To those that served, the Vietnam War became a defining moment in their lives that they will never forget. Most American troops served honorably; all sacrificed some and some sacrificed All.
We have Vietnam Veterans in the State of Alaska and right here in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta who served their country when called upon and served honorably. And sad to say, there are those who sacrificed All, their own lives.
There is a total of 57 Alaskans that died during the Vietnam War. Many Alaskans survived the War, but with scars that will never heal. Our Vietnam Veterans who were in combat in Southeast Asia came home to an American public who spat on them and gave them “No respect”. Here in the Yukon-Kuskokwim, we have Vietnam Veterans who came from Marshall, Mountain Village, Bethel, Saint Mary’s, Kwethluk, and many, many other villages in this region.
Finally, the President of the United States has honored our Vietnam Veterans by proclaiming Vietnam Veterans Day, this Thursday, March 29, 2018. Recognition that is long overdue. As VFW Post 10041 Commander, I salute and pray that you, Vietnam Veterans have good health and God-speed, that you receive all the benefits you deserve. It is still an uphill battle for many of our veterans, but in the end, I wish you SUCCESS.
On this Vietnam Veterans Day, I reflect upon those who have fallen during that terrible conflict. We, as Veterans, should never forget our Fallen Comrades. I recall the words of our Chaplain during the Memorial Day ceremony, “I am the Resurrection and the Life, he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he LIVE!” With those words, we honor our Fallen Comrades, by helping those that are living.
“Heavenly Father, bless our Military who now guard the gates of Freedom, Bless our country with Fredom, Peace, and Righteousness.” God Bless our Vietnam Veterans and all Veterans who were in uniform of our Armed Forces.
Henry J. Hunter Sr. is the VFW Post 10041 Commander in Bethel, Alaska.

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