I wish to begin by telling everyone how proud I am to have been asked to serve as an advisor to the First Infantry Division’s Quarter Cav. reenactment unit that my son Mark helped to co-found.
When it comes to Vietnam, I consider myself lucky. I was able to return home after my one-year tour of duty with my head still screwed on. I say that because I always felt the U. S. military needed more psychiatrists than MDs to treat that war’s “wounded.” My heart still goes out to those veterans who remain to this day emotionally scarred by their experiences in Vietnam.
The 1960s was a decade so totally different from today, the first decade of the twenty-first century. It was a time when the army still employed a draft (selective service). If you were not a full-time college student, you had two choices; either enlist or eventually receive a valentine’s card from Uncle Sam: “Greetings, you are hereby ordered to report for induction into the armed forces of the United States and to report…”
After receiving my valentine’s card, I was sent to Fort Dix, NJ for basic training. I was lucky. After basic, I was assigned to radio school instead of advanced infantry training. After radio school, also at Fort Dix, I was sent to the army’s advance radio-teletype school at Fort Gordon, GA. Thirty-four of the thirty-five of us in our graduating class from radio-teletype school received orders for Vietnam. The one who did not; he was assigned to the U. S. embassy in Paris on civilian status. Go figure!
One of the first lessons we had to learn upon our arrival in Vietnam was how to distinguish between incoming artillery shells and rockets and outgoing rounds. Ask Mark to tell you about my first experience with the above.
The important thing about my one-year tour of duty in Vietnam was that I survived and arrived home in one piece to carry on with my life. The hardest part was losing friends (read: killed in action). They were there with you one moment and gone forever the next.
Through my involvement (along with my wife Stephanie) with Mark in Civil War reenacting during his younger years, I came to appreciate and understand the “joy” of reenacting. It is a wonderful hobby, very wholesome and rewarding; especially with the friendships that one can forge while participating. There is nothing more appealing than being with a group of others who share your enthusiasm and respect for this fine pastime.
At first, I was a little skeptical about my son’s desire to switch to World War Two, and, eventually, to Vietnam reenacting. I only had to witness this group’s sincere desire to honor Vietnam veterans to embrace totally the effort that all of these very fine young men and women have put forth in starting and building this Vietnam reenactment unit. I am very proud of all of them.