Three Devastating Battles Not Fought In The Jungles of Vietnam
by Christian Grandfather Author
Published on March 29, 2022

Three Devestating Battles Not Fought In The Jungles of Vietnam

My Personal Thoughts

The Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act of 2017 established today, the 29th of March, as a national date of observance every year. There’s no doubt that the Vietnam War was one of the most brutal. In fact, over three million people were killed during the 20 years it went on. It was known as the Second Indochina War to Americans, and considering its long fighting time and brutality, National Vietnam War Veterans Day was created to honor all the men and women who fought during its time. Aside from honoring those who fought, four other parts of this day that are meant to be highlighted are the service of the Armed Forces and support organizations during the war; the wartime contributions at home; the advancements in technology, science, and medicine; and the contributions by American allies. [1]

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Battle #1

When I am reminded of the Vietnam War, I find myself in the “contributions at home” category. I served in the USAF for four years during the war. I was SAC support in Minot, ND. While this story is not about me, it does involve me, and millions of other Americans who were stateside in those horrifying years. As if it were tradition we became addicted to hearing Walter Cronkite tell us how many of our solders were killed in one single day. Our hearts were broken for those we knew, and didn’t know. Our evenings were such that, in the simple need for going to bed, the worry and distress made our nights restless. Our men and women did not make the choice to be there; no that decision was made for them. All we could do is work our tails off at home to support them any way we could. But, as Christians, prayer was our weapon of choice; did we ever pray! We were overwhelmed by fear and anxiety. Our God secured us under His wing, and calmed our hearts.

Battle #2

The War Was Over. Or Was It?

“Traditionally, America has always supported its armed forces and has shown great respect for those in uniform. In 1919, at the end of World War I, the Doughboys returned home from Europe to ticker-tape victory parades, marching bands, speeches, and the good will of all Americans. Additionally, when the soldiers returned home from World War II and the Korean War, they were treated as heroes. A euphoric atmosphere overtook the nation, and celebrations were held in their honor all around the country. Unfurled American flags that decorated streets and homes could be seen waving in the breeze. It was as if they, too, were welcoming home the G.I.’s. The reveling continued non-stop for weeks; it seemed as though the nation and its citizens could not do enough for the returning service men and women. A grateful nation was anxious to show its admiration and support to the returning soldiers.

Unfortunately, this was not the case when our soldiers returned home from Vietnam. As a result of America’s loss in Vietnam, there was a misperception that the men who fought there did not measure up to their predecessors in World War II and Korea.” [2]

The men and women who fought in the Vietnam War were not welcomed home. “Perhaps the cruelest aspect of the war was the treatment of the returning soldiers. Unlike the hero status given to the returning soldiers form World War II, the soldiers that served in Vietnam were portrayed as baby killers, psychos, drug addicts and war  mongers.” [3]  Our troops were excited to be home, and safe. But the welcome was not one of pomp and parades; rather, as each  disembarked their plane, and walked toward the gates, they were greeted with spewing of hatred and ridicule. This treament didn’t last for days. It lasted for weeks, months, and years.

Those who were not brought home in a flag draped coffin were experiencing, what is now called PTSD, that unwanted, that unshakable memory of friends blown to pieces. Satan’s continuous replay of horrors no man should have to see, yet now, they stand alone in irrepressible torture.

Upon return they were forced to deal with Americans at home. They were not allowed by the faithless, unpatriotic to forget the bloody screams of death, and judgments of hell on the battlefield. No, PTSD was the welcoming committee at the gates as they exited the planes. Now, it was someone walking up to you on the street and cursing in your face, reminding you of the horrible person you have become. They didn’t care what you had seen. They cared even less that it was not your choice to be there. The public humiliation was rendered based on a misinformed interpretation of the war. It is no wonder so many Vietnam [and other war] veterans commit suicide each year. It’s hard enough to forget the atrocities of war, without your countrymen taunting the memory of such. Many Vietnam veterans still carry the hurt of that unfriendly welcome home. They had seen enough combat in Nam; they didn’t need it at home.

Battle #3 – THIS SHOULD NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN!

The battle continued for many years, perhaps decades, to ensure that no returning veteran should ever be humiliated, simply because of the choice some politician made. We are no longer in the era of forced, or even lotto drafts. Today we find our kids and grandkids volunteering for service. We remember the savagery of Vietnam in our hearts, and our preference is that they stay home; our job is to create support in their lives, even when we don’t agree with their decision to enlist. The pride you send from home is the same pride they take into the theater of war. Along with our love, that is our support.

Those of us who remember the unwelcome feeling of returning home from Vietnam need to continue teaching our children and grandchildren the importance of salvation through Christ alone, gratitude for our soldiers, the significance of patriotism, and love of country. This battle should never end. Our soldiers keep us free, and they deserve to be lauded as heroes no matter their race, gender, rank or status.

Closing Thoughts

I am thankful I did not serve on the frontlines of this war. Some 58,220 Americans died in Vietnam. I have seen the portable Vietnam War Memorial, with thousands of names several times. In 2016 I was in Washington D.C. and viewed the real Wall. There is no comparison! As I walked the Wall, I felt flag-draped coffins shrouded heavily over my shoulders. With each name, gratitude became a greater burden. Revernce turned to adoration, leading to total repsect. Homage in the presence of these heroes, felt worthless when laid before the sacrifice here.

 I continued to view the engraved names when I was overcome with intense grief. These were our men and women — These were our boys and girls who rode their banana-seated bikes on the streets of America. These were dedicated soldiers, frightened and homesick, whose objective was to return home, alive! They were you! They were me! As tears began to roll from my eyes, I was overwhelmed with the since of anguish. I had to leave — I had to leave, right now!

 A few years later, I went back to the Wall and found myself in full replay of the same grief. I left, immediately. Determined to see the Wall, and look for names I might know, I went a third time in 2019. I dressed in full emotional battle gear, ready to suppress the frayed nerves of previous visits. I was determined to pay honor to my brothers. The battle gear failed; I was a blubbering mess. People stared as I made my way through the crowd. I did not take time to look. I had to get to a bench on the other end of the wall. There will not be a fourth visit. My children didn’t understand, nor did they ask, how their Dad, who had never been to Vietnam, could be so emotional about these names.

 For those of you who have never known another individual in war, let me attempt to explain. I didn’t know emotions would shed thier tears. When you serve alongside another, they become you, and you become them. Your fear, your emotion, your love of life and friendship, and God are all you have. You do your best to expel the first two, and draw in the last. God tells us to draw close to Him and He will draw close to you [4] . We learn quickly in the military the same is true with camaraderie. Just as we become close to God in the Spiritual realm, we also grow closer to each other on the earthly realm. We need each other, especially in war.

Even though I was stateside support during the war, I saw the annihilation of villages, people and soldiers on the news each night. I heard witness, and watched the tattered nerves of those who returned and worked beside me. Satan had slithered into their mind, coiled around the truth and replaced it with lies and photographic memories that would never be forgotten.

I knew my work would help GI’s on the other side of the pond, so I gave my best. Then, when I saw those names — all those names — I was overcome, realizing that I had not done enough. These brothers died while I went fishing on my day off. These women who worked so hard to save lives on the operating tables witnessed the death of humanity before their eyes. They were right out of nursing school. They were not prepared for this. That God’s creation would stoop this low revealed the evil in this world and the eradication of plain old common sense.

I did not know these men and women, these true champions, but I loved them the same. They were us! They were me!

Thank a Veteran today! You may never have another chance!

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Andy Oldham is the founder and co-creator of Christian Grandfather Magazine. He received his B.A. in religious studies and education from Anderson University. He has served as pastor to senior adults, and fills pulpits when needed. Andy taught memoir classes at the local library and after writing his personal memoirs wrote Everlasting Cronies. His column in the Northside Sun Newspaper was well received by his community. A poem, Winters Grace has been honored by the Mississippi Poetry Society. He and his wife, Barbara, enjoy retirement in Madison, Mississippi.

Article and Photo CreatedBy Andy Oldha,

 

8 Comments

  1. William Zook

    Andy, I remember my Dad, a WWII veteran, telling me to get married and go to college in the early 1960s. I did, not real sure why he was so adamant about it. During the war, I considered volunteering in some way just to support our troops. By then I was in college and married. My Dad celebrated my decision. Then, I received notice that one of my best buddies from little old Mitchellville, Iowa, had been killed in Vietnam. Duane managed to graduate from high school because I sat with him and helped him with school work. We would even sneak some of his dad’s home brewed beer!!!! Vietnam took over the 1960s after the 1963 assassination of JFK. It was the main and most tragic news, but still JFK was the hallmark news of the era.

    Reply
    • Andy Oldham

      Hi Will!
      Yes, we were all affected by that terrible war and sometimes our memory has a little trouble dealing with it.
      God Bless

      Reply
  2. Ellie Marrandette

    You encapsulated so many emotions of this war in this powerful, heartbreaking article, Andy.

    I will never forget the hate-filled 1968 marches protesting the Vietnam war flowing through the streets of my college town, Boston. Why – I thought? Most of the troops had been drafted and loved their country more than their life. They wanted to make a difference.

    My new husband enlisted after he received his draft notice. When expecting our first child, my physicians were at Walter Reed Army Hospital. I’ve never forgotten, as I entered the building one morning, the face of the soldier with one leg missing, sitting in his wheelchair. He looked up at me with haunting eyes expressing his thoughts. “What girl is going to love me as I am now?” How I wanted to tell him, “God will always love you just as you are.” But I remained silent.

    Today we are soldiers in God’s Army. As Christians in our current world, sometimes we are ridiculed, spat at, and looked down upon simply because of our faith. God loves us still. How I pray I won’t remain silent.

    Reply
    • Andy Oldham

      Hi Ellie!
      Thank you for this comment. thoughts of Vietnam are haunting indeed. I am thankful for being in God’s army today and that if need comes, I am willing to sacrifice my life that another may experience the love and salvation given through the Son of God.

      Reply
  3. Jeanne

    There is still an enormous tragedy going on, leftover from the Vietnam war. It’s called Agent Orange. My husband enlisted in the late sixties. He ended up going to accounting school in the army and then went to Vietnam in the payroll department. When he came home from Vietnam, he threw his uniform in the trash and went back to life, albeit a mixed up, changed life for a while. Most of the time, he does not call himself a Vietnam vet because he doesn’t feel worthy since he didn’t fight. However, he was on a base for a whole year, a base where not one blade of grass was growing. He now has been diagnosed with lung cancer which the VA is blaming on Agent Orange. He’s doing well on the medication provided by the VA, but why do we need to continue with these lasting problems from our faithful soldiers? My husband would never say anything negative against the army. He is very patriotic. However, there is something wrong. Since Vietnam, we have had Camp Lejeune, the oil fires in Iraq, and the chemicals being used in modern ammunition. When does it stop?

    Reply
    • Andy Oldham

      Thank so much for your reply. Agent Orange does continue to devastate lives so long after the war. Thank you for sharing this heartbreaking story with us. May God overwhelm you with His love during this time. I’ll be praying with you Jeanne! God Bless! Be sure to thank your husband for being a patriot!

      Reply

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