Local veterans remember end of Vietnam War
Fri, 04 May 2012 13:32:53 GMT —
Today we sat down with several Vietnam veterans to remember the end of the Vietnam War and the fall of Saigon in 1975.
Tom McKinney was a Navy Corpsman serving with the marines during the Vietnam War. Memories are still vivid for him sitting in foxholes in the mud of Vietnam.
"We spent a lot of time out in the field. In the rain, it was like being in a sauna. It was jungle warfare," McKinney said.
Phillip Schmitz served with the first Marine Division with his brother. His job was distributing supplies to troops in the field with this mechanical mule.
What was it like to take fire in something like this? "You did what you were trained to do," Schmitz said.
It was a long, tough war. More than 153 thousand soldiers were injured. 58 thousand men never came home alive. Chuck Vespa's job as a corpsman was to treat them in the field.
"We looked for contact with the enemy. And when we made contact That's when we got busy," Vespa said. But he says it's the ones he lost that he still thinks about every day.
It was 37 years ago that the war officially ended, despite the losses it seems some good has come from it. Vietnam is now an important U.S. ally.
People there have good feelings towards America.
Perhaps most important, Americans have changed the way they view the military. Now instead of turning their backs on soldiers as they did in Vietnam, they support servicemen despite their feelings about the conflict.
By the way, the All Wars Museum, located at the Illinois Veterans' Home, will hold a Grand re-opening to highlight its new addition and exhibits on May 25th.