“Welcome home and thank you for your service.” Veterans Day

The public’s anger at our government for pursuing an unpopular war was often directed at the service members who believed they were doing the right thing by serving their country. They were blamed, and unfortunately felt shame for the mistakes made by those in authority.

On the 11th day of November every year, we in the United States pause to honor the men and women who have served in our armed forces. We call it Veterans Day.

Military veterans today are held in high regard, and receive public and private recognition in many ways. This was not the case 40-50 years ago, when Vietnam veterans like my husband were not respected or appreciated.

The public’s anger at our government for pursuing an unpopular war was often directed at the service members who believed they were doing the right thing by serving their country. They were blamed, and unfortunately felt shame for the mistakes made by those in authority.

When called upon, they served their country but their country did not serve them well. Perhaps saddest of all, they received little if any welcome when they came home.

Vietnam veterans statue in Washington, D.D.

A national monument honoring Vietnam veterans now stands in Washington, D.C., as well as memorials elsewhere, like the one in Angel Fire New Mexico. There is a travelling “Wall” , a replica of the one in the nation’s capital.

a replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall with an American flag and a wreath of red, white, and blue flowers
a travelling replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C. visits towns throughout the United States

My husband has caps and shirts identifying him as a veteran; when he wears them in public, people will come to him and thank him for serving. Sometimes they will ask about his service experience, especially if they are also a veteran. Fellow veterans always offer a hand, saying “Welcome home.”

A ceremony honoring a fallen soldier at the Vietnam veterans memorial in Angel Fire, New Mexico

We meet relatives of service members who eagerly share their loved one’s story. Sometimes, it is a story of one who did not come home. These stories are often heart wrenching and we walk away choked up and silent.

To all of you who do or have served in the military, and to your loved ones-

“Welcome home and thank you for your service. We can never repay our debt to you. “

My husband, Raymond Oglesby wrote a personal account of his military experience, here is an excerpt-

” I didn’t want to ever go to Vietnam again when I came home in 1972 after a one-year tour of duty with the United States Army. I was stationed with the Americal Division, 3/18 Field Artillery Battalion near Tra Bong, a major village located about 25 miles west of Chu Lai, the headquarters of the Americal Division, on “China Beach” at the South China Sea.

When I came home, I did not talk about my involvement in the Vietnam War for over fifteen years. I only told two or three people what really happened. I thought only  another Vietnam vet could understand. “

Continue reading at-

From Bullets to Blessings-One man’s journey to recovery from war

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

                              Dr. Aletha 

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Honoring Our Veterans 

Veterans- we thank you for your service and sacrifice !#VeteransDay

In the United States we reserve November 11, the date of the Armistice of World War I, as Veterans Day, to remember and honor all who do or have served in our armed forces.

The Veterans Administration provides benefits to veterans including health care. The VA Health Care System, or VHA,  one of the largest in the world, not only cares for veterans’ health, but also  provides medical education and medical research.

If you have ever received care from a physician who trained in the United States, that doctor likely learned from a veteran in a VHA facility. So our veterans continue to serve even after they leave military service. 

Welcome Home Heroes- military sign

 

Here I  share several stories about veterans. Enjoy them, and make  time to thank veterans this week.

disabled veteran patch

 

 

Wounded Veteran’s Therapy Dog Serves as Best Man at Wedding

I believe your heart will be touched by this  story about the special relationship between  a wounded veteran and his therapy dog. Mine certainly was.

“It’s been quite a journey for U.S. Army veteran Justin Lansford and his canine companion, Gabe.

In 2012, Lansford lost his left leg in an IED explosion in Afghanistan.”

 

 

 

My husband served in the Army and was deployed to Vietnam in the 1970s. Here is his story

From bullets to blessings-one man’s journey to recovery from war

“I didn’t want to ever go to Vietnam again when I came home in 1972 after a one-year tour of duty with the United States Army. I was stationed with the Americal Division, 3/18 Field Artillery Battalion near Tra Bong, a major village located about 25 miles west of Chu Lai, the headquarters of the Americal Division, on “China Beach” at the South China Sea.”

army veteran standing next to a floral bouquet at a memorial
We always visit the traveling Vietnam Veteran Memorial Wall replica when it comes to our area.

 

Memorial Day at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Angel Fire, New Mexico

a special Memorial Day observance at a unique veterans memorial

statue of a soldier in a small flower bed
Doug Scott Sculpture at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial ,Angel Fire New Mexico; I am kneeling in the background, viewing the veterans’ memorial walkway; Photo by Raymond Oglesby

 

 

 

A veteran dishes out love– personal reflections from a Vietnam veteran

“The people around us are starving for love and we need to unlock our pantry and see to it that everybody gets a belly full.”

 

clowns entertain Vietnamese people
Billy and Jingles, a veteran and his wife, entertain at a medical clinic in Vietnam

 

 

 

how a father honored his veteran son’s memory

 

Please share this post and  leave a comment as a tribute to a veteran you love and admire. This post was featured on 

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Dr. Aletha

 

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Honoring Our Veterans 

In the United States we reserve November 11, the date of the Armistice of World War I, as Veterans Day, to remember and honor all who do or have served in our armed forces.

The Veterans Administration provides benefits to veterans including health care. The VA Health Care System, or VHA,  one of the largest in the world, not only cares for veterans’ health, but also  provides medical education and medical research.

If you have ever received care from a physician who trained in the United States, that doctor likely learned from a veteran in a VHA facility. So our veterans continue to serve even after they leave military service. 

Welcome home heroes sign on a VA clinic
a Veterans Administration clinic

 

Here are several stories about veterans. Enjoy them, and make  time to thank veterans this week.

Please  leave a comment as a tribute to a veteran you love and admire

disabled veteran patch

 

I believe your heart will be touched by this  story about the special relationship between  a wounded veteran and his therapy dog. Mine certainly was.

“It’s been quite a journey for U.S. Army veteran Justin Lansford and his canine companion, Gabe.

In 2012, Lansford lost his left leg in an IED explosion in Afghanistan.”

 

My husband served in the Army and was deployed to Vietnam in the 1970s. Here is his story –

From bullets to blessings-one man’s journey to recovery from war

“I didn’t want to ever go to Vietnam again when I came home in 1972 after a one-year tour of duty with the United States Army. I was stationed with the Americal Division, 3/18 Field Artillery Battalion near Tra Bong, a major village located about 25 miles west of Chu Lai, the headquarters of the Americal Division, on “China Beach” at the South China Sea.”

 

 

Memorial Day at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Angel Fire, New Mexico

a special Memorial Day observance at a unique veterans memorial

 

 

 

 

A veteran dishes out love– personal reflections from a Vietnam veteran

“The people around us are starving for love and we need to unlock our pantry and see to it that everybody gets a belly full.”

 

clowns entertain Vietnamese people
A veteran and his wife clown for people at a humanitarian outreach in Vietnam.

 

 

 

how a father honored his veteran son’s memory

 

 

two soldiers statue
Canon City Colorado

Memorial Day-why I went to  Angel Fire to see a brick

The United States celebrates Memorial Day  on the last Monday of  May, a day set aside to remember people who died while serving  in the armed forces, although many families  use it to remember other deceased loved ones also.  Memorial Day 2014 was special and unique for me and my husband.

We had planned a trip to New Mexico, not realizing we would be there on Memorial Day. I was going to attend a medical conference and we also wanted to visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Angel Fire. The previous year, I ordered a memorial brick ,engraved with his name, to be laid on the walkway there. Our schedule was such that the most convenient day to visit would be Memorial Day. We didn’t know that the Memorial has a special observance there every Memorial Day; but when we found out, we planned to attend. Here, in pictures,  is what we experienced that day .

on the memorial grounds, the chapel in the background
on the memorial grounds, the chapel in the background

In the background, I am kneeling to view Raymond's brick
In the background, I am kneeling to view Raymond’s brick

inside the chapel, which is never locked; it is open for anyone to enter at any time
inside the chapel, which is never locked; it is open for anyone to enter at any time

presenting a flag and plaque to the family of a fallen soldier
presenting a flag and plaque to the family of a fallen soldier

music by a local military reserve unit
music by a local military reserve unit

Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Angel Fire, New Mexico

Raymond Oglesby with his brick
Raymond Oglesby with his brick

Raymond with the late Dr. Westphal, who founded the memorial in honor of his son who died in Vietnam (an old photo)
Raymond with the late Dr. Westphall, who founded the memorial in honor of his son David who died in Vietnam
(an old photo)

From bullets to blessings-one man’s journey to recovery from war

I didn’t want to ever go to Vietnam again when I came home in 1972 after a one-year tour of duty with the United States Army. I was stationed with the Americal Division, 3/18 Field Artillery Battalion near Tra Bong, a major village located about 25 miles west of Chu Lai, the headquarters of the Americal Division, on “China Beach” at the South China Sea.

On April 30, 1975  the United States withdrew from VietNam after many years of involvement in that country’s war. That conflict remains a part of American history- and also a part of the personal history of the men and women and their families who served the military in any capacity during those years. Here is  a perspective on that history from my husband Raymond Oglesby.

in country, 1970
in country, 1970

take note: this contains some strong language you might find offensive; it is used to reflect what was thought at the time, not what is felt today .

Finding My Way Back

By Raymond Oglesby

I didn’t want to ever go to Vietnam again when I came home in 1972 after a one-year tour of duty with the United States Army. I was stationed with the Americal Division, 3/18 Field Artillery Battalion near Tra Bong, a major village located about 25 miles west of Chu Lai, the headquarters of the Americal Division, on “China Beach” at the South China Sea.

Tra Bong was an artillery base and housed two 8 inch and two 175 self-propelled howitzers. Each gun was capable of launching a 90 to 100 pound projectile 20 to 30 miles. The “fire base” was home to about 120 soldiers. Day and night, we fired the guns.

The US Army trained enlisted men to use weapons to destroy the enemy. Our mission was to route the NVA (North Vietnam Army) and VC (Viet Cong) from South Vietnam. I served as team leader of Fire Direction Control (FDC). We were responsible for working up fire missions and passing them to the gun crews via radio.

RAymond on duty at the firebase.

Killing the enemy, Vietnamese soldiers, didn’t bother me then because I did not see them as human. They would intercept our radio transmissions and curse us in English. We called them Charlie, VC and gooks. Without real names, they did not exist. Despite our superior air, sea and land capabilities the United States military lost the war, the first war our country has ever lost.

When I came home, I did not talk about my involvement in the Vietnam War for over fifteen years. I only told two or three people what really happened. I thought only  another Vietnam vet could understand.

After the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial was erected in Washington D.C. (1982), I began reading and watching videos about that time in our nation’s history. In Vietnam, we heard nothing about the anti-war demonstrations back in the States. Now I realized that our country’s involvement there had been a misguided effort. The more I learned, the more I wanted to go back to Vietnam, not to feel sorry for myself but to help the country I tried to destroy.

a replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall with an American flag and a wreath of red, white, and blue flowers
a replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C. visits towns throughout the United States

For Christmas, my wife gave me A Missing Peace, a book written by a Vietnam veteran, Robert Seiple. From it, I learned I was not the only veteran haunted by his war experience. Others sought healing from their shame and anger.

A MISSING PEACE-BOOK
A MISSING PEACE by Robert Seiple (affiliate link)

And I discovered how much the Vietnamese people had suffered and still did. Unlike other wars, no restitution was made to rebuild the nation so Vietnam steadily declined economically. He described efforts to help rebuild Vietnam and said anyone can make a difference. He issued a call to “reconciliation”, both within ourselves and between the two countries.

I decided to contact Vets with a Mission (VWAM), one of the agencies listed in the book. VWAM is a non-profit, non-political organization that works to bring healing and reconciliation between our countries. Since 1988, VWAM has taken  teams of veterans and other volunteers into Vietnam. At their own expense they travel to Vietnam to build rural medical clinics, support orphanages, care for homeless children and work with hospitals.

I began planning a trip there myself, wondering what I would find and how I would feel. I did not understand why God was stirring my heart for the people of Vietnam. Was I a traitor for wanting to aid a former enemy? Some of my friends thought so, saying “Since you were dying to get out, why would you go back?”

In January 1994 I arrived in Vietnam for my first visit after twenty-two years. I was so excited I couldn’t sleep. I ran whenever we stopped to visit a site, especially if I had been there during the war. I empathized with the Vietnamese who were still living in poverty. I no longer saw them as enemies but as fellow humans. They treated us kindly and welcomed us wherever we went.

At Tra Bong a crowd of people followed us around, since few Americans have been there since the war. For me the highlight of the trip was a visit to the site of the old firebase.

After walking around the now deserted site, I felt I should kneel to pray for the village people around me. They did not understand what I was doing or saying. Right then, my heart was broken for the Vietnamese people.

As we left, children from the nearby school mobbed our van. My eyes misted with tears as I felt the Lord drawing me back. “You must reach these people for my Kingdom.” I knew then I would go back.

making friends with children during his trip back
making friends with children during his trip back

I have served on several Vets with a Mission teams, teaching computer applications in schools and hospitals. I have made Vietnamese friends. Some people think I am a traitor by giving aid to a former enemy. I’m not offended or resentful toward them. I only know that God has given me a burden and compassion for the people of Vietnam.

In 1970, I went on a mission of destruction, now I go on a mission of reconstruction. We failed to win the minds of the Vietnamese by bullets, but we are touching their hearts through the love of God.

Update November 2018

Raymond has written a detailed account of his service at Fire Support Base (FSB)/Landing Zone (LZ) Cindy near Tra Bong Vietnam. The firebase fought a major battle in September 1970. That battle and how it impacted the war in general and one soldier’s life specifically is the subject of his book.

We who served on LZ Cindy in 1969 and after when the unit left in 1971 did a job that had to be done to save more lives than were taken by the enemy. All of us were there because we were asked or drafted to serve this country and help the people of Vietnam survive.

Those of us who did the job on LZ Cindy did the best we could to survive and help those who served with us. It is unfortunate that some of those did not survive, but in war people die, and there is nothing we can do about it.

Find Battle for Tra Bong Vietnam on Amazon (affiliate link)

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn, links are on the left side bar here and the Home page. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha