Mrs. Tapp’s 11th grade US History class is studying the Vietnam War and welcomed a Vietnam veteran, (Kamryn Terry’s great uncle Butch Harris), to share his experiences of the Vietnam War. Harris served with the marines in the war from 1966-1970. He worked with a third force reconnaissance unit responsible for going into enemy territory to find about locations and movement by enemy troops. He participated in 4 major campaigns during the Vietnam war. Harris comes from a long-line of family who have served in the military since the Revolutionary War. He said the hardest part was the conditions the soldiers faced. He said, “you faced 120 degree weather in Vietnam with humidity so thick it felt like diesel fuel on you.” He said much of the troops were outfitted with equipment left over from WWII including C-rations that were packed during WWII and still edible. He showed the class a 50-year-old sword used by Vietcong fighters to cut through the jungle. US forces supported the South Vietnamese against the communist guerrila movement with the support of the North Vietnamese army.
Harris told students that soldiers serving in Vietnam did not know of protests back in the US until they would return home. Harris shared that he has no ill feelings towards protestors nor those who “spit on his shoes”, when he returned. He stated that, “I believe that is why I was fighting the war. I served in the military to protect the freedoms and to fight for our country. I enlisted, but wasn’t proud to go to war. But my father, (veteran of Korean War), taught me that we owe this country a debt. If asked or needed to go; you go.” He added, soldiers now go and fight, “so you can sleep at night. And so you have freedoms protected”. He does believe now, as most historians do, that the US should have never been involved with the Vietnamese civil war. He says Vietnam vets didn’t come home to Heroes welcome, because the country decided the US shouldn’t fight. Protests were led all over the country in opposition. But Harris shared with students he re-enlisted every 13 months because the soldiers were like “his brothers.” We thank Mr. Harris for his service!