Monday, October 27, 2014

Texas X

Driving on Route 35 from Austin to San Antonio, you come upon the city of San Marcos. Said to be among one of the oldest, continuously inhabited places in America (10,000 plus years) it is the home to Texas State University and a small veterans park.

The park is located at 320 Mariposa Street and it was quite deserted the day I was there.

The small memorial is flanked by two flags and lists the names of 12 men to be honored.

The park and the memorial have seen better days and it always saddens me to to see this. I guess we are fading, slowly, into history and when we are gone, I wonder who will remember and care for these places?

There is another memorial in San Marcos, at the University, that I will write about at another time and maybe that is why this one seems to have been forgotten, at least to some extent.

Next time, on the 1st of November, I am going to take you to a MOST unusual site. Be sure to join me in Colorado, as always, at 9:00am. for one of the most fascination stories to date!

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

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

South Dakota XIV

This final post from Vietnam in our words will highlight just a few more components of this great exhibit. Housed in the Old Court House Museum in Sioux Falls it is well worth a visit if you find yourself in this beautiful part of the country. I do not know if this is a permanent display of if it is traveling so you might want to check that out before you go.

Guest books are scattered on some tables throughout the displays. I read only a few as, somehow, they seemed private to me. I know that is illogical, but it is how I felt.

The page on the left asks for info about a particular soldier and the one on the right is from a child, talking about her great grand father who,it appears, may have fought in WWII.

A Peace pin handed to a returning soldier in San Francisco.

A Purple Heart awarded to a soldier and donated to the exhibit by his family.

Field Crosses, in-country.

To end this tour on a less somber note, here is an example of typical American humor. One of the places I was was Vung Tau and the guys there had a big sign on one of the barracks saying, "Vung Tau Stables," though I must say that this one is much more elaborate it still reflects our need for humor in any and all situations.

Next time, on the 27th, we return to Texas. Join me there, as always, at 9:00am.

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

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.