Dear Editor,
It was a hot summer day when I boarded the train with my family at Union Station in Indianapolis, bound for Washington D. C. to visit my aunt, uncle, and cousins. I was excited as I had never traveled such a distance on a train. It was 1965 and I was 15 years old.
As we traveled through Pennsylvania, the train stopped somewhere near Philadelphia (I think) at a train depot very crowded with young men in uniform. And I mean YOUNG men in uniform. The soldiers were loaded on to the train, to the point where many of us, including me, had to sit on their suitcases. I am sure it was very inconvenient and uncomfortable for many. Not me . . . I found it exciting! After all, I was a 15 year old girl on a train with approximately 100 young men near my age! Although I did not converse with any of them, teenagers have a way of flirting with no words!
Why am I sharing this long ago tale? Monday, March 29 was the National Observance of Vietnam Veterans Day. It is a day to remember, to memorialize, to honor, to mourn; much of which has not been done until recent years. The soldiers on my train were bound for Vietnam. I recall they were laughing and joking around as young men will do. They seemed to be excited as they were heading toward an adventure. How often I have thought of those soldiers and wondered how many of them were among the nearly 60,000 who lost their lives in the jungles of Vietnam. Over 1600 soldiers remain POW/MIA.
The youngest United States Armed Forces member to die in Vietnam on June 7, 1969 was only 15 years old. His name was Dan Bullock, he was a U. S. Marine from Brooklyn, New York.
Over 2.7 million served in that long and needless war. One out of 10 who served was a casualty. Amputations from that conflict were 300% higher than all amputations which resulted from World War II. Seventy-five thousand of those who served ended up with severe disabilities. Classmates of mine from Noblesville High School were among the many who served with several not returning. Soldiers who did return found themselves ignored, ridiculed, spat on, and threatened. Last year as I was in conversation with a Vietnam veteran, he told me that until the DAR Horseshoe Prairie Chapter hosted its annual Vietnam Veterans appreciation breakfast - he had never been thanked for his service.
Unfortunately our DAR Chapter was unable to host the appreciation breakfast in March last year due to the pandemic restrictions and again this year we are unable to do so at this time but plan to offer the event later this year. If you are a Vietnam veteran in particular, and all veterans in general, you have the deepest gratitude and respect for your service to our country.
Sharon McMahon
Horseshoe Prairie Chapter