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Thread: Vietnam ERA veteran or Vietnam COMBAT veteran?

  1. Newly Registered User
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    Vietnam ERA veteran or Vietnam COMBAT veteran?

    I'm a Vietnam ERA veteran not a Vietnam COMBAT veteran. I think the VA and all veteran groups should differentiate between COMBAT veterans and ERA veterans.
    A COMBAT veteran is someone who served IN COUNTRY in a combat zone. An ERA veteran is someone who served during combat years. COMBAT veterans should always be given greater benefits than ERA veterans.
    I was in the CORPS from 70 -74, but I'm an ERA veteran, not a COMBAT veteran because I was never IN COUNTRY.
    Thanks,
    Bob Young

  2. Newly Registered User
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    Combat Veteran

    The entire Marine Mission radiates outward from the Marine on the ground that pulls the trigger. Every Marine, from Pilot to the maintenance log clerk, from gate guard to Headquarters horse holder, Every Marine helps pull the trigger. If the Marine wasn't necessary for the accomplishment of the mission, the billet wouldn't exist. When I was a white hat in WW2 and running the fresh water evaporators in the engine room on the USS Uvalde, I shared with the gun tub gunners the ship responsibility. The ship had to have all of us.
    In Korea and Vietnam, I had confidence and felt comfortable flying any aircraft. Every man in the squadron was equally responsible for the bullets fired, and enemy killed.
    The word, 'combat' seems to leave out those, usually with special skills, that are critically necessary for the Mission.
    To me, 'Marine' places all Marines on equal footing. Anything else has no meaning. Combat is shared by every Marine.
    Wayne
    Wayne Hazelbaker

  3. Newly Registered User George's Avatar
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    Excellent reply Wayne! Couldn't have been better said.

  4. Newly Registered User
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    Not qualified

    Since I did not serve "In Country" I would be the last one to enter into a debate about what qualifies as a combat veteran. I can testify first hand that the VA in N.J. was less than accommodating to "Viet Nam era Veterans".

    I did my 4 years and got out (Jan '68 to Jan '72). I feel blessed to have known some good men who did serve in Viet Nam and I'm glad that most of them returned. Sadly some would never completely assimilate into the civilian world and as a result would suffer many ills that others have difficulty understanding. My heart goes out to the guys who came home to face protests and to be called names that they didn't deserve.

    The level of danger and stress they faced puts them in a different category in my mind. A category to which I may never be qualified but I am privileged to have known some good men that I think of as heroes. Their names may be less than footnotes in history but I'm honored to have known them briefly as friends/brothers.

    In recent years I've been asked to speak on "Veteran's Day" and I'm quick to emphasize that I'm not qualified by my own experience but I do consider it an honor to speak on behalf of those who either can't or won't speak for themselves.

    The U.S. Marine Corps.... an experience that I wouldn't take a million dollars for but I doubt that I could do it again for five million.

    I sometimes think I'm negligent if I sit down and enjoy a good meal, have a good night's sleep, or enjoy the company of those around me if I don't take time to give thanks for those who made it possible.

    Forgive me for rambling. Just my two cents.

  5. sgtdave's Avatar
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    Combat and Noncombatant

    I just want to share some things along the line of combat and noncombatant soldiers. If you talk with anyone who has been in Combat it does change them in a way that non-combat experience would have never done, and I might add, some more than others. The experience is one they will never forget or cannot, to some degree or another. Marines do all share a camaraderie that we all feel toward each other regardless of combat or noncombatant experience, but there is a difference between the two. I once argued this with a soldier going to Iraq and when he returned he had to agree with me that it does change the person in such a way that they will always carry it with them the rest of their life. The distinction is there and that is why when we (USMC Combat Helicopter Assoc.) get together in a reunion atmosphere we feel different than we would toward those who have never experienced combat. It is like someone who went through a terrible experience, no matter what it might be, and when they find someone who went through the same experience they understand each other in a way others cannot really comprehend, simply because they have never experienced it, and there is a bond there between them. All of this is not to say that the noncombatant soldiers are any less soldiers than those who have experienced combat, it is the experience that makes the difference.
    David "Butch" Powell HMM-262 RVN 70-71

  6. Howdy's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Could not have said it better

    Butch

    I could not have said it better or agree with you more.
    Well done.

    Semper Fi

    Bruce "Howdy" Mayor HMM-161 '69-'70

  7. Newly Registered User Callous's Avatar
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    Butch
    I have to agree with you it does make a difference in the soul. I was in HMM163 (evil eyes) at Santa Ana in 68-69 and watched the guys returning from Nam. I didnít know any better at the time but I wanted what they seem to have. I could never put my finger on it what it was they had, they seemed move with an assurance us state side boys had not learned.
    I transferred to HMM 364 (the Purple Foxes) in Nam in 70 then transferred to HMH463 and followed them to Kaneohe Bay Hawaii in 71. By then I had wished I had my innocence back.
    I have found all through my life that when I meet another Marine itís with pride we both share but an incountry Marine share a kin ship whether they were on the ground or in the air.

  8. Newly Registered User
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    Lightbulb two different issues

    As I read the rely's i'm seeing two different issues. Is there a difference in the though process between ERA and Combat vets. Of course there is, there is no experience like combat. Should the BENEFITS be different....NO. We could not have done our jobs without the cooks, fuel handlers, H & MS maintence, etc. or the supply folks, clerks. The only BENEFIT difference should be if an ERA vet. refused a combat assignment......To the best of my recolection, nobody ASK me what I wanted to do after I raised my hand and joined. I had the good fortune to be with some brave and skilled Marines in country, but I also know we couldn't have preformed without our non-combat support.

  9. Newly Registered User
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    In response to the last remark about benefits should not be any different for combat and non-combat veterans, I have these questions;

    1. Should job preference in government hiring be handled in the same way?
    2. If the widow/widower of a deceased veteran is in the running for a position, should they be given greater consideration than a non-combat veteran?
    3. What about health benefits? Granted some ERA veterans are exposed to chemicals or warfare grade weaponry that could have some residual effects, but should those who failed to take care of themselves be given equal consideration to those with clearly combat induced illness?

    Just curious. Over the years I have come to know a large number of veterans who served at home, or in completely non-combat areas, that received government jobs despite any specialized or higher education while combat area vets had no luck, nor did their spouses in spite of more relevant skills.
    Deborah

  10. Newly Registered User
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    Benefits, not Jobs

    Again, two different issues. (1) Benefits ie, health, rehab, training, education etc. No differce between combat vs. non combat. As regards surviving dependents, if the vet was on active duty, then yes those dependents should be considered. If back it civilian life at death, no. Point is, as a civilian individuals have the choice and its up to them to prepair for the family. (2) regarding employment, that would be a function of skill level and trainging not VA status. However, given two people with EQUAL skill and training, I think a vet should get preference. Question to answer is, are they in fact equal in skill and training? Thats tough to determine


    Quote Originally Posted by widow1 View Post
    In response to the last remark about benefits should not be any different for combat and non-combat veterans, I have these questions;

    1. Should job preference in government hiring be handled in the same way?
    2. If the widow/widower of a deceased veteran is in the running for a position, should they be given greater consideration than a non-combat veteran?
    3. What about health benefits? Granted some ERA veterans are exposed to chemicals or warfare grade weaponry that could have some residual effects, but should those who failed to take care of themselves be given equal consideration to those with clearly combat induced illness?

    Just curious. Over the years I have come to know a large number of veterans who served at home, or in completely non-combat areas, that received government jobs despite any specialized or higher education while combat area vets had no luck, nor did their spouses in spite of more relevant skills.

  11. Newly Registered User
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    Post Benefits, not Jobs

    Again, in my opinion two different issues. (1) Benefits, ie health, rehab, retraining, education etc. I don't think there should be a difference between combat and non combat vets because both served. (2) Re; Jobs, that should be based on skill levels, training, education, personality of both employer and employee, etc. are the issues. Best qualified should get it and yes I think vets should get preference over non-vets if BOTH have the same skills etc. to offer. Problem is that very seldom do you have two people with exactly the same skill, training, personality etc. so choices are made.

  12. Newly Registered User J Lynch's Avatar
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    In reply to Era Verse Combat

    If we don't distinguish between the combat vet and the era vet, how can the va rate our disabilities and our problems? If a marine gets drunk and wrecks a motorcycle and loses a leg does he rate the same benefits as someone who lost a leg in combat, I have to say (no). The marine who lost his leg in combat is more deserving than the era marine. Of course that's a personal opinion from someone who served in viet nam, Lebanon, through to the Persian Gulf before being ask to retire with a disability.
    Always a Semper Fi
    J Lynch

  13. Newly Registered User
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    Treatment not rateing

    In my opinion the VA (and the congress) should concentrate on providing what our Vets need, based on need. Not 10% of this or 20% of that. Sure some Marines got in car wrecks or roughed up at the club, but some also got disabled on training missions stateside. And their need is also real. They answered the call just like we did and were ready to go, just like we did. And in country some worked bunches of hours a day to feed us, provide us water, and make sure we had the parts we needed to keep our birds in the air to get those medevac's. But they didn't see combat. Bottom line, in my opinion, every one who answered the call (and didn't wimp out) should get the help they need without going through a bunch of office winnie bull...


    Quote Originally Posted by J Lynch View Post
    If we don't distinguish between the combat vet and the era vet, how can the va rate our disabilities and our problems? If a marine gets drunk and wrecks a motorcycle and loses a leg does he rate the same benefits as someone who lost a leg in combat, I have to say (no). The marine who lost his leg in combat is more deserving than the era marine. Of course that's a personal opinion from someone who served in viet nam, Lebanon, through to the Persian Gulf before being ask to retire with a disability.
    Always a Semper Fi
    J Lynch

  14. Newly Registered User Tom Thompson's Avatar
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    What's the big deal

    Of the 2.6 million Americans that went to Vietnam, between 1-1.6 million (40-60%) either fought in combat, provided close support or were at least fairly regularly exposed to enemy fire. That includes the 7,484 women (6,250 or 83.5% of which were nurses) that served in Vietnam.

    Let's cut to the chase - most of the guys in line companies or those in direct support had some level of comtempt for the REMF types (and to some degree, justifyably so). The reality is, is that they were there and they were an integal part of the overall mission.

    The term "Vietnam Era Vet" has never differentiated between cook and grunt -it simply means that a Vietnam era veteran is a person who (1)served on active duty for a period of more than 180 days, any part of which occurred between August 5, 1964 and May 7, 1975, and was discharged or released with other than a dishonorable discharge; (2)was discharged or released from active duty for a service connected disability if any part of such active duty was performed between August 5, 1964 and May 7, 1975; or (3) served on active duty for more than 180 days and served in the Republic of Vietnam between February 28, 1961 and May 7, 1975. It says nothing about being shot at.

    David Hackworth like to say that "One Purple Heart don't make you any less a stud than the guy with seven - we're all pullin on the same rope"

    I can't speak for the other members of this association, many of whom fought and died in Vietnam - but I would imagine they would probably say - If you served proudly and honorably, what the hell's the difference.
    Last edited by Tom Thompson; 01-07-2007 at 20:28. Reason: Grammar

  15. Newly Registered User J Lynch's Avatar
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    Era verse combat

    Brother Thompson:

    Thanks, every once in a while we need to get our head out of our ass and get our feet back on the ground. Thanks for pointing me in the right direction.
    as always Semper Fi
    Jim Lynch

  16. Newly Registered User Tom Thompson's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Era verse combat

    Jim,

    That's what being brothers is all about..

    Semper Fi

    Tom

  17. Newly Registered User
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    Well Put

    Well put Tom, and thanks for the perspective.

  18. Newly Registered User
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    Tom I think you are wrong in one part. The VA told me I was a vietnam Era vet becuase I had SERVED in the military durning the period of 1965 to 1975 period. Didn't matter what kind of discharge or where I served could have been stateside.
    To claim in country status had to prove I served in country durning that time frame, then I could recieve benifits for the problems caused by being in country.

  19. Newly Registered User Tom Thompson's Avatar
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    This quote is from the US Dept. of Veteran Afffairs -

    "A Vietnam era veteran is a person who (1)served on active duty for a period of more than 180 days, any part of which occurred between August 5, 1964 and May 7, 1975, and was discharged or released with other than a dishonorable discharge; (2)was discharged or released from active duty for a service connected disability if any part of such active duty was performed between August 5, 1964 and May 7, 1975; or (3) served on active duty for more than 180 days and served in the Republic of Vietnam between February 28, 1961 and May 7, 1975."

    I can guarantee you that if you received a "Dishonorable Discharge", the VA won't give you so much as a Band-Aid - and rightly so..
    Last edited by Tom Thompson; 01-13-2007 at 22:48. Reason: Spelling

  20. Newly Registered User
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    Hair Splitting

    I'd like to point out that sometimes a dishonorable discharge had extenuating circumstances, like being coerced to sign up for another in country tour and refusing. I have heard some stories and seen some vets with dishonorable discharges ultimately get benefits when their stories were verified.

    I have also seen some vets with honorable discharges behave in ways that were anything other than honorable. Implying directly, or through omission, that they had served in combat brought them attention and respect they didn't deserve, not to mention the free drinks, pats on the back, and other considerations.

    I respect all veterans, but I reserve a special place for those who were warriors; they earned it.
    Last edited by widow1; 03-21-2007 at 17:58. Reason: grammar error
    Deborah

  21. Newly Registered User bobdag's Avatar
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    We know inside.

    There is one place everybody knows if they served honorably or not. Whatever one says, does, or claims is all to no avail if one isn't honest with himself and his maker. God bless America and all who have donned the uniform to protect it.

  22. Newly Registered User
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    Combat Veteran??

    In 1966 I was 23 years old and somehow had avoided the draft. I knew my time had to be coming so if I was going to go I was going as one of the best trained fighting men in the world. In December 66 I joined the Marine Corps and left for boot camp at PI. I was assigned a MOS in communications and attended Comm School at C&E Btn in San Diego. In late April 68 I reported to the MMAF, MAG16, MABS16 Communication Ctr for duty.

    My Vietnam experience is different than most of the members of this association. The comm ctr was responsible for sending milstrip requisitions to Subic Bay for everything from soup to nuts in support of the squadrons assigned to MMAF. We also transmitted aircraft incident and after action reports, daily intelligence summaries and maintenance bulletins. The message that was the hardest to send was the death message. I would sit there with the transmission prepared ready to send and think about the grief the message was going to cause to the family yet to be notified..

    I have a Vietnam service Medal patch on my motorcycle vest. It reads Vietnam Veteran across the top and U.S. Marines below. Occasionally someone will ask about my service when they see the patch and I proudly tell them I was with Marine Air Group 16 since most people don't know what MAG stands for. Some people seem disappointed that I was not at Khe Sanh or some other more recognizable LZ. I went where I was told to go and did what I was told to do. I did not set the agenda or have a say in what my job was.

    When I came home being a Vietnam Veteran was not a popular thing. I went back to work and continued on with my life and never said much about my service. In the last 10 years or so my service has seemed to become much more important to me. I sat down with my Son and showed him my platoon picture and other photos and explained what I did in the war. I have a copy of my DD-214 and a list from St. Louis of the ribbons I am authorized to wear. I joined the VFW and the VVA and I have been visiting the Wall each year on Memorial Day and some years on Veterans day as well. I have been viewing your web site for a year or so but just recently became a registered user but still not a full member. For some reason I don't feel like I qualify to join a organization named the USMC/COMBAT Helicopter Association.

    Am I a Combat Veteran or a Combat Era Veteran? I don't know but I am proud of my service. I was shot at, not directly with small arms fire, but with mortars and rockets. I never got to fire back and this really used to pi** me off. I joined the Marine Corps to fight but never fired a legitimate round while in country for 16 months (more than a few rounds were expended on the 4th of July and News Years eve). Just a few days ago I got an email from someone selling a T-Shirt with Combat Wings on the shirt. I didn't buy the shirt because I don't feel I should wear a t-shirt with a combat air wing insignia.

    Why am I writing all this? I wanted to try and explain how although someone might technically qualify as a Vietnam Combat Veteran still really not feel like a combat veteran in the same sense as most members of this organization.

    Semper Fi and thanx for allowing me to post my comments.

  23. JoeReed's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Combat Veteran

    Gerry,
    You were in RVN under combat conditions whether or not you fired a shot in anger. You are a Viet Nam Combat Veteran, in every sense of the word. NOT just a Viet Nam Era veteran. A lot of Marines that served with me in my squadron never flew, didn't earn the Combat Air Crew wings and never shot at anybody. Our squadron won a Presidential Unit Citation and other decorations for exemplary service in combat. Were they any less a part of the citation because they didn't fly? Some typed and filed, some repaired weapons, some repaired aircraft! We sure as hell couldn't have done it without them.
    Thanks for your service.
    Semper Fi
    Joe

  24. Newly Registered User
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    Ditto to Reed

    Gerry,

    What Reed said. My commentary applies to those who never saw Vietnam, or even its coast line, yet proudly announce that they were/are Vietnam Veterans, implying directly and/or indirectly that they "saw" combat. I have had the distinct misfortune to know several, one that comes to mind spent his "forced" service in Germany living the good life.

    Again, what Joe Reed said. You have my respect, you earned it.
    Deborah

  25. Newly Registered User jejacobs's Avatar
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    RE: Combat Veteran ??

    To: Gerry Haas

    Gerry - Your children should be just as proud of you as we are. You did your DUTY and that's that! Joe Reed is 100% correct - we could not have done our jobs without the support of Marines like yourself. None of the armed services can survive without people like yourself. Don't cut yourself short, YOU ARE A MARINE, you served your country and were in-country for more time than most (i.e 16 months).

    I work with a professional colleague who was in the Air Force and spent the majority of his 4 years of service stationed in England during the Gulf Wars, etc. His job, 12 hours per day, was to receive our dead brothers, from all the armed services, in their caskets, process them for the return flights to the US and ensure that they received the priority and respect which they so highly deserved and not as just another item of cargo on a manifest.

    I have seen his DD-214. He has received some of the highest non-combat commendations in the Air Force for his "dedication and initiative" during that time. But, he does not have any "combat" ribbons, cannot join the VFW, or any other veterans combat organization, etc. He has expressed his envy after seeing my Combat Aircrew Wings, ribbons and memorabilia from my 6 years in the Corps. I have told him that I feel he deserves just as much respect as anyone who was ever in a combat situation.

    Many, many of these unknown "defenders of our Nation" go unknown, unappreciated and ignored.

    I salute you, and all them wo go unknown!
    Joseph "Jake" Jacobs
    HMM-262 Combat Helicopter Association

  26. JoeReed's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Right on!

    You got it, Jake! They also serve, who type and clean, but moreover, with out them, we'd have had to do it instead of flying in harms way resupplying, inserting, extracting and med-evacing the real war veterans, the Ground Pounders!
    Semper Fi
    Joe

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    Remember, these are "A" models!
    YW-11 BuNo-151939
    '65 Model CH-46A

  27. Newly Registered User jerryd6818's Avatar
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    Viet Nam Veteran Classifications

    Government definitation:

    Vietnam Era Veteran:
    (1) Served in the military, ground, naval or air service of the U.S. on active duty for a period of time more than 180 days, and was discharged or released therefrom with other than a dishonorable discharge, if any part of such active duty occurred:
    I) in the Republic of Vietnam between 2/28/61 and 5/7/75; or
    II) between 8/5/64 and 5/7/75 in all other cases; or

    (2) Was discharged or released from active duty for a service connected disabliity if any part of such active duty was performed:
    I) in the Republic of Vietnam between 2/28/61 and 5/7/75; or
    II) between 8/5/64 and 5/7/75 in all other cases.


    I found the previous definitation over and over but nowhere in my research did I find anything that documented the government making a distinction between a Viet Nam Era Veteran and a Viet Nam Veteran. That greatly surprised me because I was always under the impression that a Viet Nam Era Veteran was anyone who served anywhere in the Armed Forces during the period between 8/5/64 and 5/7/75. I also thought that to be a Viet Nam Veteran, you had to be "boots on the ground" in Viet Nam or aboard a U.S. Naval vessel off the shores of Viet Nam supporting the war effort during that same period. Imagine my surprise.

    As far as a "Viet Nam Combat Veteran", this is the first place I've seen that label used. I can only assume ya'll are refering to a Viet Nam Vetern who qualifies for the Combat Action Ribbon (CAR).

    The CAR was instituted in 1969, retroactive to 01Mar61 and later, by order of President Clinton, to 7Dec41. The principal eligibility criterion is that the individual must have participated in a bona fide ground or surface combat fire fight or action during which he was under enemy fire and his performance while under fire was satisfactory. Air combat does not qualify for the CAR. (It doesn't make sense to me but that's what it said. I didn't make that up.)

    As for the Presidental Unit Citation (PUC), The 1st Marine Air Wing in Viet Nam was awarded the PUC and the citation reads "and all subordinate units". That means that anyone who served in Viet Nam in a unit whose parent unit was 1st MAW, rates the PUC.

    I served with 1st LAAM Bn from 31Aug65 until 22Aug66 at Da Nang, on Monkey Mtn. Because 1st LAAM Bn was attached to 1st Maw, we rate the PUC.

    I know this thread is rather old but I just surfed in and noticed some confusion over these issues. I hope I haven't bored ya'll.

    Semper Fi
    The Few. The Proud.
    Jerry D.

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