Monday, January 28, 2008

Opening up about Vietnam

I hope you read reporter Tiffany St. Martin's story in today's Herald recounting local veterans' memories of the Tet Offensive. (In case you missed the story, here’s a link:)

This was a traumatic time in America's military history, and only those who served in Vietnam can describe what the experience was like.

One of those is East Manatee Editor Jim Jones, who assigned and edited the Tet story. Jim was stationed in Germany on Jan. 31, 1968, when the Viet Cong launched their massive assault against the South Vietnamese and American military. But he had volunteered for a tour of Vietnam, and soon after Tet he found himself there.

A column Jim wrote Jan. 20 soliciting feedback for the Tet story triggered a touching response from Jim Price of Wimauma, who served in the 156th Aviation Company in Can Tho from October 1966 until May 1968.

Wrote Price: "I troubled some days before deciding that this was the time to look at my past. I finally decided to share with you something I should have shared with my family long ago. My children are adults (shucks, we even have grandchildren) and have never heard what I am sharing with you. The period has been just too dark for decent people to contemplate.''

We have always respected the fact that many Vietnam vets have been either unwilling or unable to talk about their experiences in Southeast Asia. But time seems to be easing the burden for some, allowing us to learn things we couldn't possibly have known — and, more importantly, creating healing opportunities for those who served there.


(To read Price's entire letter, here’s another link.)

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