By Glyn Haynie
Yes, I am a Vietnam Veteran! I served a year in Vietnam as an Army infantry soldier with First Platoon Company A 3rd Battalion/1st Infantry 11th Brigade Americal (23rd) Infantry Division and served in the U.S. Army for twenty years.
I told myself over and over again I would not get vocal about the Ken Burns documentary ”The Vietnam War.” Heck, it has not even aired yet. BUT I watched some interviews on television and the internet, and emotions surfaced that I didn’t know existed. At first I didn’t understand why, but then realized I am fearful that the American soldiers who fought the war and now the Vietnam Veterans will still not get the fair treatment or positive recognition they deserve. Will we still have to go on thinking we should be ashamed of our service?
The American public doesn’t know or maybe doesn’t care how the Marines, Soldiers, Airmen and Sailors who came home from fighting a war—for the American people and our country—were sometimes abused and ignored because of their service. The politics of the war don’t matter, then or in hindsight— American youth took the oath to support and defend, and that is what we did. The Greatest Generation took the same oath in World War II.
I am not saying the Baby-Boomers compare to the Greatest Generation, but I will say every soldier I served with in First Platoon was just as dedicated and brave as the generation before us. They were the Greatest of Our Generation! Most did not complain about the politics of the war or question why we were there. They endured the heat, rain, food, being dirty, hungry and scared as hell; that’s what good soldiers do.
I have three sons who served and returned from Iraq and Afghanistan. After returning, my two youngest, both infantry soldiers, asked how I processed and stored the memories of my Vietnam experiences. My only advice was that I put the memories in a box and stored it away. Probably not the best advice a father can give his sons, but that’s what Vietnam Veterans did. Heck, I was even envious of my sons because of the Welcome Home they received. How sad is that!
What’s even sadder, other than my petty envy, is how Vietnam Veterans greet each other. It can be anywhere… at the mall, a car wash or restaurant. When two veterans, strangers, greet they first ask each other what year they served, then shake hands and embrace and then say two words to each other: Welcome Home! If you don’t see the irony in this greeting, then you don’t get it. Hopefully the documentary will clear it up for you.
I have been asked if I would do it again. My response is always Yes – with the men of First Platoon, the finest and bravest men you will ever meet.
To all Vietnam Veterans - Welcome Home Brothers!
Ok Ken Burns and Lynn Novick bring on the Documentary and reinforce my pride as a Vietnam Veteran!
First Platoon photograph taken at our First Reunion 2016.
Sitting, left to right: Gloria Ramos, Maurice Harrington, Mike Dankert, Fred Katz. Standing, left to right: Glyn Haynie, Don Ayres, Cliff Sivadge, Dusty Rhoades, Lesley Pressley, Charlie Deppen, Chuck Council, Dennis Stout, John “Mississippi” DeLoach and Ray “Alabama” Hamilton. Note: Gloria Ramos is the sister of Juan Ramos who was killed July 14, 1969.
My three sons returning from war April 2004 - From your left - David (Special Ops), Nathan (82nd Airborne) and Bryan (Ranger Battalion). Although fearful while they were in a combat zone, at one point all three simultaneously, I am extremely proud of their service and accomplishments.
When I Turned Nineteen: A Vietnam War Memoir and Soldiering After the Vietnam War.