A veteran's view of the fall of Saigon in honor of Memorial Day

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-11170385034325.jpg’, ‘Photo provided by Dan Sutherland’, ‘This photo offers a grim view of war in Vietnam, a view many veterans have witnessed firsthand. This Memorial Day, we honor the many sacrifices made by our veterans and those who perished to make our way of life possible.’);

Editor’s note: The following was submitted by local veteran Dan Sutherland in recognition of the 30th anniversary of the fall of Saigon on April 30. It is presented here in recognition of Memorial Day, May 30.

The anniversary of the fall of Saigon, they say? That’s what they remember most? I saw a different war than from the top of the U.S. Embassy. One that was created but was never allowed to be won. Did you ever wonder why there were no tank divisions to halt the quick onslaught of the North Vietnamese as they came south? It’s because we drove their crack tank units and crack infantry units into the Cambodian rubber trees near Snoul and allowed the NVA to destroy them. That eliminated the domino theory and the second-largest military in the world.

Here’s something few Americans will ever recall, let alone see. This was the summer of my 18th year. We didn’t have all these modern technologies they have today. I can remember the infantry running to my chopper with wounded hardly over 19. They’d load ‘em on ‘til we could hardly lift off, and as soon as we were flying out another chopper would land right in behind us. Sometimes a battle would last three days or more. Our clothes would be starched crisp with human blood during the battles med-e-vacs. I can remember flying in at night after the day was done, and all these people, little pieces of remains, would be lying around in the slick. First thing I’d do when we got in was get a bucket of water and start washing out the blood and meat lying around. I often think it’s a wonder we all didn’t die there.

From the May 25-31, 2005, issue

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