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In the United States of America

a presentation by Shannon Gadberry( my niece) to her college class concerning Vietnam. I attended the presentation and answered a few questions.  The class appeared to be very interested in Vietnam. Below are some high lights of that report.

He was just a small boy,

What is the truth?

playing with pretend guns and knives, throwing rocks at his younger brother, trying to pretend like he was the one in charge. Little did he know that someday he would be in charge for real, not pretending but reality, the true life game of war, the War in Vietnam.  At a young adult age of 19, my Uncle Mike was living at home with many siblings and his mother and father were both blind. He received the call in 1969 that he would be going off to serve his country in Vietnam. At 19, he didn't even know why the war going on, all he knew was he was going to fight and maybe die for his country. When he left his family he didn't really think much about it but he soon realized how frightening it really was, and how much he missed home. He was trying to be strong, strong for himself and for his family. My uncle served 12 months of his life for our country. He was shot at, walked through swamps in the dark with water chest deep, filled with leaches. He ate beans and franks out of a can. Personal hygiene wasn't that good and they encountered a lot of diseases. Mike's reaction to the war is "indescribable". As the year passed by , he was finally coming home, leaving behind friends who had become like family to him. He had memories of hate and killings that are pictures in his head even today. He returned to a nation who did not praise the brave soldiers for the battle they fought for us. Although the war has been over 30 years , at least he is here for me to say "Thank You for serving our country". Many soldiers just like my Uncle had to put their life  on the line to serve our country. Uncle Mike made it back home, unfortunately some soldiers were captured and held prisoners and some 56,000 gave their lives for us and many more were injured, both physically and mentally. 
Some say there are no POW'S left behind. Some say that our country has done all they could to bring missing soldiers home. Some say a few soldiers don't want to return. In 1972 Vietnamese  officials told the United States that they held 368 Americans but according to the Congressional Quarterly they held more than 1200 of our men. As part of the Paris Peace Accords signed in Jan 1973, Hanoi agreed to release and ultimately returned 591 POW's after they had stated that they only held 368. Russian documents stated that 614 Americans were never returned. Family members of those that never returned home to this day feel angry and hurt that their loved ones were left behind in Southeast Asia. In 1980, the CIA got hold of a source that claimed there had been a prison camp recently built in the central location of Nhommarath, that held some pilots who had been shot down over Laos. A top secret plan called, Operation Pocket Change was prepared but was the only postwar rescue the U.S. ever considered. Several attempts failed but President Reagan was eager to try again. A 13 man Recon team crossed the Mekong River on March 29, 1981 into Laos and almost immediately ran into trouble. It was a flat out failure according to Richard Allen who was working on the rescue efforts. We may never know where the rest are, but groups like the National League of P.O.W./MIA are not giving up. Maybe someday we may have a closure on this. Let us not forget the soldiers who fought in Vietnam, the ones who made it home and the ones who didn't. They served during war time and maybe we don't agree or understand why, but they put their life in harms way for all of us and for my home in the United States of America.

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Last modified: May 16, 2006