Friday, October 17, 2014

South Dakota XIII

Wandering through the many exhibits at the Old Court House Museum in Sioux Falls, reveals any number of interesting sights and details. In this third post from there I will highlight just a few.

"Sand bags" and photos tell some of the story of everyday life. I was briefly in charge of a sand bag filling operation while on light duty due to a severe infection of some, still, unknown origin. We filled thousands and thousands of these ubiquitous reminders of ever present danger, but I never saw them placed. It makes you very aware of the magnitude of the efforts to protect ourselves and our people, equipment and facilities.

The state has an exhibit touting the beautiful memorial in Pierre. Each vet who attended was given one of the special License plates shown here to proudly display on their cars.

This will surely bring back some memories. In an effort to not give away position, dog tags were often taped together or one laced in a boot and the other around your neck. We used band-aids as they were easier to come-by than tape.

More of the story is told on a nearby panel and as you may know, eventually "tags" were edged with rubber or plastic (I never had any of these so I am not sure which) eliminating the need for rubber bands, tape, or band-aids.

Those that participated in the interviews for Vietnam in our words are given recognition throughout the displays.

Next time, on the 22nd, we will visit the last few exhibits from this site. Join me at 9:00am on the 22nd.

To see additional memorials from South Dakota, or any other state, click the state name on the left side of this page.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

South Dakota XII

This is the second in a series of posts from the Vietnam in our words exhibit at the Old Court House Museum in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. If you missed the first one, just scroll down to South Dakota XI.

A map explains the various geographic elements throughout the country. It explains various weather conditions and their impact in different areas.

A large timeline highlights various important events throughout the war.

Awards, decorations and medals are displayed here.

The "new" jungle fatigues were introduced in October of '67. I had been there since April and, man, were they a welcome relief. They were a marked improvement on the older type were had been wearing; much lighter and thankfully, cooler.

The accompanying sign fills in some details. I never knew that there were three different issues of these uniforms.

Credit where credit is due. It is often said that 22 (Or 31 depending on whom you read) nations participated in the war, but these are the ones that actually put "Boots on the ground!" Oddly, Canada, who lost 100 men, is not listed. No one, yet, lists Ireland who was not officially involved, but it is now known that 19 of the names on the Wall in DC, (one a nurse counted as on of the 8 women) are Irish citizens. They are among the 100's that came to the US specifically to join the military and fight in 'Nam. Their story is being told on a new monument being constructed in Ennis, Ireland. Ennis will actually be the second Vietnam Memorial in Ireland. The first is at Adare Manor in Kilarney and you can find more about it on this site. I hope to get back to Ireland one day to honor and photograph these sites.

Next time, on the 17th, I will continue with some more from this site in South Dakota. So, join me at 9:00am for the next installment.

To see other memorials from South Dakota, or any other state, click the state name on the left side of this page.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

South Dakota XI

While in Sioux Falls, I noticed a sign on an old building. It invited one to come in and see the Vietnam Museum within. It would have been very easy to miss completely had I not been walking.

Inside was a whole display of artifacts, personal contributions, and historical information contributed by many. Called, Vietnam in our words it makes an effort to include various points of view. Soldiers, families, friends, and citizens are all represented, in some way.

An opening statement explains the approach taken to the exhibit.

Detail from above

Much efforts has been expended to try to tell the story of how and why we got involved in Vietnam. The rooms are full of panels of text, timelines, etc. trying to make sense of it all.

This one makes an effort to explain our initial incursions and I guess we will just have to believe that the people doing the writing did the best they could. Most of us will never know the truth. I have written, often, before about how these efforts often differ wildly in their retelling of the story.

In the past, long time readers will recall, I have complained about what in the kindest interpretation may be called inaccuracies or misinterpretations or in the worst, revisionist history, but in the end it is a fruitless argument as the truth is only known to those now, mostly, long gone. This is difficult for to those for whom truth makes a difference. To have been part of something and never fully understand the truth, leaves one the rest of their lives to wonder and doubt. I am not actually suggesting that these statements are untrue, only that they differ from others seen in different places in different times.

I will spend the next post or two sharing some of its features. So, join me back here on the 12th, at 9:00am, for more details and pictures of some of the exhibits components.

To see other memorials from South Dakota, or any other state, click on the state name on the left side of this page.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

South Carolina IV

Not so very far from Columbia is Sumter. Named after the same person as South Carolina's famous Fort Sumter and home to both a beautiful 911 memorial as well as tribute to the 30 from the area who paid the ultimate price in Vietnam.

Located at Civic Plaza, just a brief walk from the firehouse is this memorial.

I find the face of this particular soldier quite interesting. It is,at once, classically Greek and, somehow, young and innocent. In my travels I have found that many of us appear tougher than I, at least, felt in 'Nam.

The names are listed upon this side of the memorial, now 30 years old, and are showing their wear. It was hard to read them and even more difficult to get a photo that does these lost men justice.

At the base, we, as we are so often, bidden to remember.

The memorial may be found in Civic Plaza which is on Magnolia Street, between E. Hampton Ave. and E. Calhoun Street.

Our next visit will be to South Dakota so, join me there on the 7th, as usual at 9:00am.

To see additional memorials from South Carolina, or any other state, click the state name on the left side of this page.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Pennsylvania XV

 In light of my most recent past post from Durham, North Carolina, it seems completely appropriate to post this one from Bristol Township, Pennsylvania.

War dogs, as I said in my last post, are often the forgotten, unheralded heroes of many different situations. This site, in this place, at least, ends that forever. The 19 men from the area who made the ultimate sacrifice are remembered and honored here, also, but I will write more about them at at a later time.

This site dedicated to these warrior dogs and their heroic actions and, also, recounts their, all too often, unnecessary and tragic ends.

This is a magnificent site and I am very pleased to have found it.

This site honors not only the dogs from Vietnam but, also the dogs from all wars listed on a separate marker and here notes the many roles they so faithfully and valiantly played.

Next time, on October 2nd we will return to South Carolina, so join me there, as usual, at 9:00am on the 2nd of October

To see other memorials from Pennsylvania, or any other state, click the state name on the left side of this page.

Monday, September 22, 2014

North Carolina VII

In this, the third and final post from Durham, I want to share a few more of the details of this remarkable site.

The reverse side of the "Book" makes a number of statements and clarifications not often seen at these sites. It is obvious that much thought and devotion went in to the planning and rebuilding of this monument.

This is the first memorial I have seen to combine Vietnam with September 11th. The glare from the sum made this particularly hard to read, so here is what it says.

We fought in the North
We fought in the South
Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos

Dedicated August 8, 1992
Vandalized January 30, 2001
Rededicated in the Millenium year 
of our Lord
Sunday Veteran's Day
November 11, 2001
A tribute
In memory of September 11, 2001
Let us as a people never forget
It is all about time
The past, the present, the future

The opposite panel explains the various symbols found on the memorial, and there are many. Again, a lot of thought and effort went into creating this site.

This thought is reflected at many sites and is worth remembering.

As long time readers will recall, I am always pleased to find memorials that include the noble dogs (War Dogs) that worked with us. protected us and were our friends during this difficult time. I had a dog in 'Nam, not an Army dog, just a dog and she was the best. I tried to bring her home with me, but she had a batch of 10 puppies just weeks after we cleared animal husbandry. So, I could not afford to bring the pups (it cost two months pay just to bring her) and I could not abandon them so I passed "Short timer" and the pups on to a buddy, it nearly broke my heart. 

You are most likely aware that, now, many of these great animals come home with their "person", but this was not always the case. These dogs were just abandoned in Vietnam, I do not know if we even know how many, after protecting us, were just left to fend for them selves. It still is one of (the many) things that infuriate me.

I have often said that one of the "Silver Linings" of Vietnam is that we have learned to never treat a returning vet like that again. Perhaps, another is that we now allow the dogs to come home, too. I am not sure if this always happens, but at least sometimes it does.

Next time, on the 27th, we return to Pennsylvania, so join me there at 9:00am.

To see additional memorials from North Carolina, or any other state, click on the state name on the left side of this page.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

North Carolina VI

The Durham North Carolina memorial has inscription on each side. The left panel speaks to the sacrifice made by so very many.

The right panel honors all who served, those lost and those who visit the site.

The names of those lost or MIA are inscribeed upon the blavk "V" adjacent to the panels.

Others are honored in the surrounding brick plaza.

Next time , on the 22nd, I will show several additional interesting components of this beloved memorial. So, join me at 9:00am.

To see other memorials from North Carolina, or any other state, click the name of the state on the left side of this page.