The Soldier’s Stories

Take a look at the oral histories your classmates recorded of veterans’ service in Vietnam.

The Wall

To Heal a Nation


Jan Scruggs and Joel L. Swerdlow’s To Heal a Nation: The Vietnam Veterans Memorial  – adapted by Swerdlow into an article for Syracuse University Magazine in 1985

“Historians regard the Civil War as America’s most traumatic experience and the Great Depression as second most. A strong minority believes our scaring war in Vietnam is third, and some even think it should displace number two. The Depression was, after all, not very divisive; we were almost all in the same waterlogged boat, and hard times had a strangely unifying effect. Vietnam, on the other hand, is still an inflamed wound it hurts to touch, and partisans are still ready to tear at one another over the subject when it is resurrected from a dark place in our past.” — Howard K. Smith’s introduction to Scruggs and Swerdlow’s To Heal a Nation.


Items Left at the Wall

Bike, Wisconsin Hero ~ “Item Summary: Wisconsin Hero Bike custom-built Harley-Davidson motorcycle (chopper), also referred to as the “Wisconsin Rolling Memorial”. Built in honor of the thirty-seven (37) Wisconsin Vietnam veterans listed by the Department of Defense (DOD) as POW*MIA at the time of production, the motorcycle incorporates the names of each of the “Wisconsin 37” in original paint schemes by U.S. Marine Corps and Vietnam veteran Wolfman “Jack” Shaulik.”

Package, Returned Care ~ “Item Summary: Artifact assemblage consisting of a returned, unopened, Vietnam-era care package and affixed handwritten note dedicated to U.S. Army Specialist 4 (SP4) Charles Leroy Stewart, Jr. The care package appears to have been sent to SP4 Stewart, Jr. by his family back home while he served ‘in-country’ in Vietnam in October 1972. Postmark stamps and a handwritten inscription upon the wrapped, unopened box indicate that the care package was returned to sender due to the fact that SP4 Stewart, Jr. had been killed in action (KIA) on October 31, 1972.”

VVMF on facebook

The War

Screenshot 2015-06-03 10.13.05Jack Smith

Jack Smith, the famous ABC reporter, was a Private First Class (PFC) in C Company 2nd Battalion 7th Cavalry and wrote his first person account of the action at LZ Albany. It was published in the Saturday Evening Post in 1967 and is a chilling account of the events. (–From We Were Soldiers Once…and Young website)

Death in the Ia Drang Valley, November 13-18, 1965  by Private 1st Class Jack P. Smith

Sandbag For A Machine Gun: Jack P. Smith on the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley and the Legacy of the Vietnam War — Jack P. Smith gave this speech on 8 November 2003, at the Ia Drang Survivors Banquet in Crystal City, Virginia.

Resources on Ia Drang:

We Were Soldiers Once…And Young by Lt. Gen. Harold G. Moor (Ret.) and Joseph L. Galloway

Network News Footage of Ia Drang

Battle of Ia Drang @ wikipedia

1st Calvary unit ambushed in Ia Drang Valley @ The History Channel

There is a 20-minute video about Ia Drang on YouTube, but it is difficult and mature. You are not at all required to view it.

National Geographic’s Inside Vietnam: Battle of Ia Drang:

Lt. Col. Harold G. Moore’s 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, live from the battlefield in 1965:

Col. Moore speaking of his Battalion and the Battle at Ia Drang in 2008:

Trailers for We Were Soldiers — Mel Gibson plays Lt. Col. Moore:

Valley of Death in We Were Soldiers— Graphic! Not required viewing.

Napalm Strike in We Were Soldiers — Graphic! Not required viewing.

The Protests

“Born on the Fourth of July” by Ron Kovic

“I wanted people to understand. I wanted to share with them as nakedly and openly and intimately as possible what I had gone through, what I had endured. I wanted them to know what it really meant to be in a war, to be shot and wounded, to be fighting for my life on the intensive care ward, not the myth we had grown up believing. I wanted people to know about the hospitals and the enema room, about why I had become opposed to the war, why I had grown more and more committed to peace and nonviolence. I had been beaten by the police and arrested twelve times for protesting the war and I had spent many nights in jail in my wheelchair. I had been called a Communist and a traitor, simply for trying to tell the truth about what had happened in that war, but I refused to be intimidated.” — Ron Kovic

Podcast on events at Kent State on May 4, 1970.

The controversy over Urban Outfitter’s “Kent State” sweatshirt.

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I am the living death
the memorial day on wheels
I am your Yankee Doodle Dandy
your John Wayne come home
your fourth of July firecracker
exploding in the grave

“Kovic Asks If Vietnam Taught Us Anything” (Sept 9, 2004) 

“Forty Years After ‘Fourth of July,’ Ron Kovic Still Speaking Up Against War” (Nov 8, 2014)

“Reflections on the Vietnam War: The Things a Warrior Knows” (Jan 19, 2013)

Ron Kovic @ BIO.COM

Vietnam War Protests @ The History Channel

Photo Essay on Ron Kovic (2006)

The Press

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The Legacy

Wisconsin Vietnam Veterans’ Stories

K-9 Units in Vietnam

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