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Retired Army Vet Backs John Kerry
I would like to submit to your paper a letter written by my brother, Major George G. Reese, retired army, about the current controversy regarding Senator Kerry's military record and his comments after returning from Vietnam.
It is with his permission that I am forwarding his letter to you. I believe that many veterans also feel this way and it would be beneficial to hear from as many as possible.
The letter follows:
In retrospect, I wish the Vietnam War never happened on my first tour in Vietnam in 1967-68. I was a typical gung-ho Lieutenant, fresh out of Infantry OCS and flight school.
I didn't give much thought to "why" we were in Vietnam. I didn't have much time to think, write letters home, etc. as I was putting in twelve hour days, seven days a week, month after month.
I became very simplistic in my feeling about my circumstances. I did not have time for the luxury to evaluate the pros and cons as to whether the U.S. should be at war in Vietnam.
My reality was that my Huey was being shot at, and many nights, rockets and mortars fell on our camp. I really did want to get the enemy before he got me or my comrades. To hell with the politics, our survival was at stake.
After that first tour, I had time to reflect. I no longer had to worry about my survival, but I was aware that guys just like me were still fighting and dying in Vietnam. The more I thought about "why" we were in Vietnam and the circumstances under which the war was conducted, the more disillusioned I became.
As a career Army officer, I knew that I would have another tour in Vietnam.
I returned to Vietnam for a second tour in 1972. At that time, the U.S. public had turned against the war. The politicians had also decided that we should get out of Vietnam. But the "peace talks" went on for years. U.S. forces were being downsized and Vietnamization was in full swing.
While the politicians on both sides haggled over terms, U.S. servicemen continued to be killed and maimed.
I was lucky and survived my second tour with no injuries. It is my opinion that my experience and feelings associated with the Vietnam War are similar to those of John Kerry. We both willingly served and we both concluded that the war was wrong based on our wartime experiences.
While we both came up with the same conclusion about the war, we reacted differently.
I tried to put the memories behind me and continued to "soldier on" through a second tour.
Kerry, on the other hand, believing that to continue the war was immoral, decided to become politically active against the war.
I have a high regard for John Kerry. I give him credit for volunteering to fight in Vietnam when others from his privileged class opted for Canada or the Guard. I also give him credit for recognizing that the U.S. should not have been involved and for acting upon those beliefs.
His actions, I believe, shortened the war and thereby minimized further loss of life. I am proud of my service in Vietnam and cherish the comradeship experienced in combat.
However, my perspective on the war remains the same. Too many vets cannot come to grips with the fact that the U.S. lost the war. Of course, we all know that the American military was not defeated. It was a loss for the United States, however. The politicians got us into a war with little debate and without full public support in an unnecessary war.
The actions of the politicians caused the United States to suffer its first and only major defeat, and they are at fault, not those who were against the war.
I find it repugnant that George W. Bush, who avoided Vietnam service, is once again playing the role of the "Great Divider." He is using Vietnam vets who agree with him politically to do his dirty work for him by trying to question Kerry's service and thereby his ability to become president.
The one thing that I was most proud of was that although we fought in an unpopular war, there was a comradeship forged in Vietnam among those who were there. I really despise George W. Bush for turning vet against vet for his political gain.