Friday, January 13, 2006

The Vietnam Generation

Barrett Tillman January 11, 2006
Ask yourself two questions:
How many Vietnam veterans do you know?
How many of them have expressed any resentment about the nation's hugely supportive attitude toward today's troops?

Like most of us, I have known dozens of veterans of the Vietnam “conflict” who spent anything from a few weeks in-theater to six years in Hanoi. I'm acquainted with scores more.

None of them has uttered one syllable of the indignation that we might expect: “People spat on us but why do they stand up and clap for troops today?”

That attitude was expressed after Desert Storm, maybe because it was so much ado about so little. The ground phase of the “war” lasted four days yet the troops returned to tumultuous parades and yellow ribbons. We lost fewer people to all causes in Desert Shield/Storm (148 KIA, 235 others) than in one week's combat in Vietnam—which dragged on for more than a decade.

Think about that. On average, from 1967 through 1969, more Americans died in Southeast Asia every week than were killed by enemy action in Desert Shield and Desert Storm. In 1967 the average weekly loss was 320, or 45 per day. (Consider the likely reaction if 45 Americans were killed in Iraq tomorrow.) Furthermore, over 80% of Vietnam deaths were the result of enemy action; in 1991 it was barely one-third. Many SEA vets can be understood if they found no comparison.

Today it's different.

Why is that?

Well, let's ask some of those graying warriors.

From a Navy attack pilot: “I am one of those who truly will never forgive the Peace, Flower, and Protest Bunch for the way we were treated.

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