Some very thankful, patriotic folks are planning a celebration of the signing of the end of the Vietnam War.
The planners hope for financial help to create this much-needed event, which will be Sept. 13 and 14 at the Brown County Fairgrounds.
We are late in finally appreciating sacrifices made by brave American youths who stepped up to their nation's call and served in a terrible war 10,000 miles from home. Some lost their lives. We, a grateful nation, owe them homage and a huge thanks.
If the signing of the World War I armistice became a notable, memorable holiday, why has no one honored such a historic event as the end of the Vietnam War?
These brave men and women deserve better recognition than they received when that terrible mistake of a war was over. They are no less or no more than our present-day soldiers who face danger every day.
I have such vivid memories of this war. I was on active duty when it all started and have many, many friends who fought there some 40-plus years ago. I have lots of friends who were combat pilots during the Vietnam War and lived to tell about it. Some didn't.
There is Lt. Royal Cherry, an old squadron mate who received the distinguished Flying Cross for bravery in destroying an enemy bridge. When his flight leader dove in and his ordnance wouldn't release, Royal put the pipper right on the bridge, and the bridge went down. He is now a retired Northwest airlines pilot living in Cupertino, Calif.
The late airman Dick Ratzlaff, who came from Aberdeen, was a GIB (guy in the back) in an F-4 Phantom hit over North Vietnam. He had to eject, was captured and spent five years in the "Hanoi Hilton," enduring such cruel torture too bad to describe. Rescue was so close. The pilot was rescued, and Dick was captured.
Pete Hall, an old pal from Northwest Airlines, was an air rescue pilot of a Dumbo flying boat. He landed in the ocean off North Vietnam to rescue a downed pilot when his own airplane took a direct hit and blew to pieces. Pete swam back into the burning hulk and rescued a crew member.
Fred MacMurray, yet another retired pal from Northwest Airlines now living in Coerd’Alene, Idaho, was a GIB of an F-4 Phantom. When they were hit over North Vietnam, their airplane began straight down and straight up oscillations when they both ejected. Fred spent the rest of the war enduring unbelievable torture in a Hanoi prison.
I could go on and on mentioning brave young men and women who did what their country ordered in the Vietnam War.
A celebration of the signing of the peace treaty ending the Vietnam War is so right. It is only fitting that these brave and courageous men and women be commended and recognized for their service to their country. It is the least we can do, and this moment is long overdue.
Gerald “Jerry” Krueger is a retired educator, coach, commercial pilot and farmer. Write him at email@example.com. His column publishes Mondays.