The 2 great victories of our Vietnam vets

By Maj. Gen. Patrick Brady

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, and as we celebrate Veterans Day, I hope Americans will remember the great warriors of Vietnam.

I wonder if there is another war we fought where, after 50 years, we were still saying “welcome home.” I dare say the rest of our warriors were welcomed home when they came back.

The reason, of course, is that when the Vietnam vet came home he was treated like a war criminal from a losing effort, not something Americans are enamored with.

Yet, that soldier was never defeated on any battlefield in Vietnam. Our defeat was at the hands of our elite in the courtrooms, the classrooms, the cloak rooms and the newsrooms: cowardly media-phobic politicians, an irresponsible dishonest media, and other cowards and spoiled brats and professors from Berkeley to Harvard. I wish I could find better words to describe my feeling for them.

Living with the scars of war is difficult, for some unbearable, but all veterans suffer. The Vietnam veteran suffered physically as much, perhaps more, than any veteran of the past century. But no veteran has suffered the mental agony of the Vietnam vet.

The thing that makes Vietnam so intolerable is what the elite tried to do to dishonor the source of those scars, to intensify the pain of the Vietnam veteran and destroy his unselfish and honorable legacy. They opened a gash in the psyche of that veteran and then rubbed salt in it. And as bad were the atrocities committed by the communists on the friends we abandoned.

The good news is we have gotten over it, and the nation, I think, is ashamed of that treatment. Perhaps it has a lot to do with the way we treat today’s warriors – with a respect, even reverence, that every American warrior deserves.

Medal of Honor recipient Gen. Patrick Brady tells the inspiring, miraculous story of his days as a Dust Off air ambulance pilot in Vietnam. Get his newly reissued book, autographed: “Dead Men Flying: Victory in Viet Nam”

America has no kings or queens, but we do have a nobility, and the Vietnam vets were noble warriors. They don’t believe they did America a favor by their service; they believe God did them a favor by allowing them to be born in this great country.

Today 87 percent of Americans hold the Vietnam vet in high esteem. Hopefully, not out of pity but for what he did.

And what he did was incredible. As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Vietnam, This is a good time to look back on that great soldier and set the record straight, for future generations, but especially for today’s young people, to ensure they are not misinformed about the sacrifices of their parents and relatives who served in Vietnam.

Vietnam matches in unselfishness anything we ever did. There was really nothing in it for us in a materiel sense. We were simply trying to help a helpless people be free from the horrible evil of communism.

The GI contributed so much in their usual generous way to the welfare, the health and the education of those wonderful people.

Especially the young. The Vietnam vet built hospitals and orphanages, vaccinated thousands. We adopted the children, educated them; we cared for and about those people. No barrier, no political system will erase what our Vietnam veterans gave to those people.

Vietnam may be the only war we ever fought, or perhaps that was ever fought, in which the American soldier added to their heroism a humanitarianism unmatched in the annals of warfare. And he did during the heat of the battle. Humanitarianism was our victory in Vietnam.

And the fruits of our humanitarian effort is still there in psyche of the people of Vietnam, in their hearts and souls, as it is in the hearts of so many people all over the world who have been touched by the American GI. And it cannot help but have a positive influence in the years to come.

I have been back three times and was amazed at my treatment. Of all the countries in the world the young Vietnamese want to visit, America ranks No. 1.

If we look beyond the media narrative, we see the quality of the Vietnam veteran, the intensity of that fight and the suffering of that soldier.

Contrary to media reports, he did not abuse drugs beyond his civilian cohort. He was less likely to be in prison than non-vets; his income exceeded non-vets by 18 percent, and his unemployment was less. The Vietnam vet was and is an outstanding citizen. And veterans from that war were responsible for the remarkable victory in Desert Storm.

Some say the fighting in Vietnam was less intense than in World War II. The average infantryman in the Pacific in WWII saw about 40 days of combat in four years. His counterpart in Vietnam saw about 240 days of combat in one year.

The percent of those who died is similar to other wars, but the percent of traumatic amputation and crippling wounds were 300 percent higher in Vietnam than World War II – 75,000 Vietnam vets were severely disabled.

The atrocities committed by U.S. troops were horrible, but not more horrible than any war – and those guilty were persecuted. The atrocities committed by the communist resulted in commendations by their side and went virtually unreported by the media. Over 36,000 South Vietnamese were assassinated and over 58,000 abducted.

Ninety-one percent of Vietnam vets are glad they served. And they were the highest-educated force we ever sent into combat.

One disturbing statistic among Vietnam veterans was their suicide rate. In the first five years after discharge, the rate was 1.7 times higher than non-veterans. After five years it was less. This may have been due to the treatment the Vietnam veteran received in the early years after the war.

During Vietnam, and since, we’ve heard a lot about the so-called peace demonstrators in our society, but I am sincerely hard-pressed to understand what these people really contribute or promote to ensure peace. They seem always to attack some element of our strength, which is the very source of peace.

All the sheep, all the chickens, in the world would like for everyone to be vegetarians, but that hasn’t happened – probably won’t happen – there are simply too many wolves out there.

Our veterans – our military – are the real peace demonstrators in America. Strength offers the only hope of peace, and these men and women have demonstrated for peace by contributing to our strength. They have put their bodies, their very being, where their mouth is on behalf of peace. That is not hollow rhetoric on some safe street corner – it is cold hard steel and warm blood. No one can do any more to ensure peace.

It was our warriors in Vietnam who slowed the onslaught of communism to this day. And communism is dead in Vietnam; they just don’t know what to do with the corpse.

There is an inscription on the wall of a veterans cemetery that says they sacrificed their youth that liberty might grow old. There is no one anywhere who that better applies to than the veterans of Vietnam.

Humanitarianism and a road block to communism were our great victories in Vietnam.

The World War II guy was my hero. The Vietnam vet is my brother and sister, and it is heart-wrenching to remember the way they were treated. I was with many of them when they took their last helicopter ride. I hope America will pay special thanks to those great warriors this Veterans Day – and say a prayer for those on the Wall in Washington.
Get the full account of Gen. Brady’s Vietnam rescue operations in his book, “Dead Men Flying,” a riveting tale from America’s most decorated living soldier – autographed!

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