November 11, 2010, - 1:58 pm

MUST READ: A Soldier Remembers Vietnam

By Debbie Schlussel

My late father, H.L. Schlussel, was drafted and served in the U.S. Army during Vietnam.  Most of his graduating medical school class was drafted because they needed doctors in Vietnam.  A good deal of these people were Jewish, and my dad told me that when they got off the plane at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, they had more than enough men for a “minyan,” the Jewish requirement of at least ten adult men for a complete prayer service.

David L. Dyer, Vietnam Veteran & Career Soldier

After Vietnam, my father opened his private medical practice as an ophthalmologist.  Until about 1995, my father always offered free medical care to Vietnam veterans, never charging them for their visits and appointments.  He did this because he was so disgusted at how America treated its Vietnam War veterans, spitting on them and otherwise treating them like dirt when they returned home from Vietnam.

Because of the way they were treated and what they saw in a war we were winning (until America’s left-wing media lost it for us on the airwaves), many Vietnam veterans are still, today, reluctant to talk about their experiences.  One of them, David L. Dyer, finally opened up in an important and touching column.  Here is an excerpt of his Veterans Day piece:

I was never able to talk about Vietnam without my eyes welling up. I would always give the excuse that there was nothing pleasant about Vietnam, so why talk about it? Or I would change the subject or just leave the room. . . .

I finally told my story at the encouragement of my brother Wayne Dyer, a motivational speaker, who hit me with the words, “Do not die with your music still in you.” . . .

In May 1971, I returned to Vietnam after a short leave. The war was supposed to be winding down. But we were hit with a mass casualty that I never thought we would live through. There were 47 casualties, and we were considerably understaffed.

There was one patient who was placed with the DOAs whom I heard sounds coming from. As I knelt down to him, all I could see were the whites in his eyes. He had over 90% body burns. I put my hand on him and he asked me if he was going to die. I then heard him say in his final breath, “Mom.”

Please read the whole thing.

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12 Responses

I was born in ’61 so the war was ubiquitously in the news and on most people’s minds. I remember many young men that lived around us being drafted and serving. I didn’t know any who were killed.
After finally understanding what the communist left was attempting to do with the complicity of many on the left (i.e. media, universities, Hollywood -same old same old) to drive our culture ever leftward.

The romantic leftist myths still surrounding the 60s are silly and abhorrent; aging leftist still beating their arrogant drum that supposedly “changed the world”.

I was a huge tragedy that there was not more of a backlash against the destruction of the left in those days.

patrick on November 11, 2010 at 2:44 pm

It is a sober reminder to those who disparage those who serve. That dying young man from so many decades ago was worth a thousand SDS members who hid their cowardice and depravity behind political slogans.

Worry01 on November 11, 2010 at 3:48 pm

A very touching article, the image of Jane Fonda came to mind. I still can not stand to watch that woman anytime she is on tv or a movie. I believe if America did not think so fondly of her father,she would never have been let back in this country.

Jo on November 11, 2010 at 6:15 pm

A Vietnam Veteran commented on a local radio program how finally after all these years he’s seeing some respect for Vietnam Vets. He also said, just as Debbie stated, that most don’t even talk about the fact that they served.

I don’t care how they felt about the war, that’s their opinion and everyone has a right to one, but the way some people treated our fighting men when they returned home still sickens me.

Great article Debbie.
Thank You.

theShadow on November 11, 2010 at 8:29 pm

Debbie,

Thank you for “A Solider Remembers Vietnam”. I too was drafted at 18 years of age and wound up in Vietnam on Thanksgiving Day 1966. I served with the 1st Infantry Division, 7th Field Artillery, and was a gunner on a 105 howitzer. On April 9, 1967, while providing artillery support during Operation Junction City, I was severely wounded and ultimately made it to Fort Sam Houston via a hospital in Yokohama Japan. In May 1968, I was permanently retired from the Army with a disability retirement at the age of 20. I was fortunate enough to find the surgeon who operated on me for over eight hours in Vietnam at the 3rd Surgical Hospital. It was 25 years later, but I got to thank this doctor and personally speak with him. Over the years, we have communicated with each other by letter. Am I scared up – you bet; but alive thanks to a Doctor whose surgery skills were truly ahead of his time in 1966. I am now 63 years old, but will always remember this Doctor and the many nurses who cared for us wounded soldiers. Debbie, your dad was truly a special man having helped so many soldiers and veterans. Like me, the soldiers and veterans he touched will also remember him – just as I will never forget the Doctor who saved my life.

Tom Holley on November 11, 2010 at 9:53 pm

Don’t let anyone tell you Vietnam vets were not mistreated. I saw it with my own eyes when we went to meet my cousin returning from Nam in Detroit @ Christmas 69′. About 100 hippies were waiting for their plane…it was a hideous spectacle I’ll never forget.

Brian on November 12, 2010 at 1:33 am

Debbie, I could write volumes, but a heartfelt thank you will suffice.

Naomi Romm on November 12, 2010 at 7:49 am

I was a hippie. I never spit on anybody, and wouldn’t think of doing that. I was against the war, not the soldiers. The war was mismanaged for 10 years, it was time for it to end. Johnson and Nixon were two bumbling clowns who couldn’t manage any war.

Truth on November 12, 2010 at 12:43 pm

My ex husband was spit on when he returned from Vietnam and I heard a Vietnam vet at the Veteran’s Parade yesterday telling someone they were called babykillers. That generation of soldiers has not healed yet but I am glad they are getting thanked now. You can see the hurt when you thank them and show them your appreciation. Very sad that the 60s morons did that to them.

CJ on November 12, 2010 at 1:26 pm

Debbie, your dad sounds like he was a real mensch. I’m a Vietnam vet which also makes me a boomer. Around here, that’s a dirty word and that’s a shame. I was against that war after being there and seeing firsthand how absurd it was.

Thanks for all you do, Debbie. A note to your readers: please do not paint the baby boomer generation with a broad brush. There are good people and stupid people in every generation.

Ron on November 12, 2010 at 5:21 pm

The other day my father-in-law asked me about my Marine Corps experiences and we were fondly comparing the differences between the Marines and the Air Force for which he was a proud Veteran. He told me a story that really made me think how my life would be different today. On the day prior to the launching of the Tet offensive in Jan-68, my father-in-law told me that he had spent a year in Vietnam, and had received his orders back to the States after serving as an Air Operations Intelligence planner for bombing missions. He said that he enjoyed his duty because at that time there were very few commissioned officers in that field so he and his fellow Airmen doing this duty had allot of responsibility planning critical missions. He said he had the best living quarters at that time and the next senior Airman in line to get these quarters was also his best friend. He said that the night before he was to leave Vietnam, he did not sleep in his quarters because he moved out at the request of his best friend. He will never forget that decision or that night night because it was the start of the Tet offensive and that their airbase was attacked by sappers. During the attack his friend was in his new quarters taking a nap. His friend had never awakened because some bullets fired by sappers had penetrated the walls of the barracks which killed his friend in his sleep. He said he thinks about that often it tears at him because of a simple decision of moving out of his quarters saved his life but took away the life of his closest friend. Today he would not be here, he would not have two children which one is his daughter who I am married to now. After he told me that story I just thought “Wow” his best friend indirectly saved his live by moving into the quarters where he would have been sleeping during the attack. Thank you Nam Vets for your service.

ScottySemperFiVet on November 13, 2010 at 11:55 am

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