Vietnam Full Disclosure

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To: A1C Paul Wayne Anthony (Panel 12W – Line 105)
Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina

 

Brother,

 

Like me, you enlisted in the United States Air Force to avoid an unpopular draft and minimize your chance of being sent to Vietnam. Unfortunately, our rather naive calculations were in error; your first tour of duty after training was to the 6924th Security Squadron, Danang, Vietnam (aka, “Rocket City”); I made it to the 6924th just a couple of months later.

 

It just occurred to me, while writing this, that you and I might have become good friends at Danang, but, of course, the war has a cruel way of making friendship rather difficult … or impossible.

 

Your tour in Vietnam began April 3,1970 and came to a violent end 5 days later on your first night of duty. In the early morning hours of April 8, 1970, four 122mm rockets slammed into the 6924th’s top secret operations compound. You died instantly.

 

You were just 20 years old and newly married.

 

You were not alone.

 

There were over 6,000 US deaths in Vietnam in 1970; over 1600 from North Carolina; and 88 from Charlotte, your home town.

 

You are not alone.

 
One of your fellow Airmen – who was in the operations building when the rockets hit – and saw you die – filed for mental disability in 2007. He had carried your death around with him for 37 years. In an official investigation of the April 8,1970 rocket attack and the Airman’s claim of PTSD, the VA stated, “… the Da Nang Air Base received eight incoming rockets resulting in light American casualties.”
 

I’m sure you and your loved ones would disagree that your death constituted a “light American casualty.” You were 20 years old and newly married.

 

You are not alone.

 

They shipped you home in a box. Your family and friends put you to rest.

 

You are not alone.

 

Now, your name is etched into Panel 12W, Line 105 of the Vietnam War Memorial. There are 58,318 names on the polished granite monolith.

 

You are not alone

 

Over the decades since your death, many Vietnam vets have been fighting for peace and justice for all the 20 year olds in the world? They’ve occupied the Statue of Liberty, marched on Washington, testified in Congress, disrupted political conventions, fought for VA improvements, challenged US involvement in other wars, set up clinics, exposed PTSD and Agent Orange, and so much more. In response, they’ve faced indifference, denial, harassment, beatings and arrest, simply for speaking the truth about war and the finality of death.

 

Yes, this motley crew of gray-haired men and women, who used to be so alive and energetic, survived Vietnam and returned to work for peace. They’ve lost a few of our sisters and brothers along the way, but there exists an unbreakable bond among us … we will never be at peace until we put an end to war.

 

We are not alone.

 

How about you, my brother? Are you at peace? Something tells me you’re not. After all, your sole duty now – intended or not – has been to stand as a stark reminder – for all generations – of a war that never should have been waged; a reminder that death is forever. Needless to say, you, and all those on THE WALL with you, have a tremendous responsibility to be the conscience of history … as do we.

 

You are not alone.

 

Yes, my brother,  you and all veterans are inextricably bound in the struggle for peace; you on THE WALL … the vets in the streets. But, as the Vietnam vets slowly fade away, you will remain, etched forever into that polished black granite for generations to come. You will have to endure all kinds of discomfort and pain, from the harshest DC weather to the most gentle touch of a grieving loved one as they trace your name on a slim piece of paper.

 

You are not alone. We are one.

 

Peace,

 

Terry Post
6924th Security Squadron
Danang, Vietnam 70-71

 

P.S. Everyone who served with the 6924th remembers the infamous olive loaf sandwiches we were served nearly every night while on duty. A friend of yours back home said you actually liked olive loaf. It’s tragic that the war tore you away from being allowed the time to learn to hate those damn olive loaf sandwiches … just like the rest of us.

 

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