Hamilton County: Remembering 1969 And The Vietnam Conflict

Saturday, March 23, 2019 - by Linda Moss Mines

Wednesday, March 27 – Friday, March 29 will be recognized in Hamilton County as Vietnam Veterans Appreciation Day to coincide with the national observance, Friday, March 29. Only recently has the nation appeared united in its recognition that members of the armed forces returning from the raging conflict in Southeast Asia [1965-1975] were greeted with unfriendly stares instead of cheering crowds and parade streamers. The local observance at 10 am on Wednesday, March 27 on the high hill at the Chattanooga National Cemetery will pay homage to the over 150 young men from the Chattanooga Valley who died in that conflict and will honor the more than 10,000 surviving men and women of the region who fought in Vietnam.

For many citizens, the Vietnam War is a distant memory, one page in an abbreviated U. S. History text or the Ken Burns PBS series. For others, Vietnam was a defining moment in their lives, whether they served in Southeast Asia, as support forces in other regions of the world or simply lived through the events of the war via the first nightly war broadcasts in our nation’s history. For those citizens, the events of fifty years ago remain a crisp memory, only softened around the edges by the passage of time.

1969. The world seemed to be changing quickly. Apollo 11 landed on the moon and Neil Armstrong proclaimed “a giant leap for mankind.” Woodstock and the Stonewall Riots sent shiver through the nation as a new generation seemed to also take a giant “leap” beyond the seemingly uncomplicated life of the 1950s. Political news ping-ponged from the inauguration of Richard Nixon to the unsettling news of Chappaquiddick.  All of the major domestic stories, however, played out against the continuing images of the Vietnam Conflict.

1969 in Vietnam saw US troops engaged in a 10-day attempt to cut off North Vietnamese infiltration from Laos in a high carnage battle at Ap Bia Mountain, later nicknamed Hamburger Hill by journalists. Ho Chi Minh died of a heart attack in September and, instead of lessening North Vietnamese resolve, fighting intensified. The U.S. responded with two strong and seemingly counteractions: the institution of a draft lottery and ‘Vietnamization’ program designed to gradually reduce the number of U. S. forces in South Vietnam.  The draft seemed to gather up those young men not enrolled in college and to create a new group known as “draft dodgers” who fled to Canada to avoid combat. Vietnamization worked as troop numbers dropped from more that 549,000 in 1969 to less than 69,000 in 1972 and an anxious nation watched as reports began to focus on the Paris peace talks.

Amidst all the political and social upheaval of 1969, soldiers, sailor, airmen and Marines from the Tennessee Valley continued the fight. Most would return home accompanied by memories that remain vivid fifty years later; most, when interviewed, will tell you that they served with honor and that, while the political management of the war was often clouded, they were fighting to stop the spread of communism, masking totalitarian corruption and lack of self-determination. Two generations later, the scars remain but the links of friendship between those who served also remain.

Set aside thirty minutes, beginning at 10 am, Wednesday, March 27 at the Chattanooga National Cemetery, for an opportunity to witness a ‘Welcome Home’ moment among brothers and sisters for whom 1969 seems only a few days ago.

The event is sponsored by Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter # 203, Hamilton County Government, the Chief John Ross Chapter, NSDAR and the Chattanooga National Cemetery.

- - -

Linda Moss Mines is the official Chattanooga-Hamilton County Historian, Co-Chair of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War Commemoration Committee and an active member of the Chief John Ross Chapter, NSDAR. For more information about Vietnam commemorative events, she can be reached at localhistorycounts@gmail.com . To information regarding membership in VVA 203 or the VVA 203 Associates, contact Chapter President Charlie Hobbs at nam67mp@aol.com.

 


Wayne Shearer’s Special World War II Memoir Entry: Hearing About D-Day While In Texas

Chester Martin: Memories Of D-Day, 1944

Chief John Ross Chapter, NSDAR Earns Tennessee Society Recognition


(Editor’s Note: In connection with the 75th anniversary of D-Day, Wayne Shearer, 94, is running his memoir entries from June 6, 1944, and immediately afterward in this entry. The regular series ... (click for more)

I was only 9 years old at the time and schools had just let out for the summer. I do not remember any particular increase in 'war-talk' among the adult population, and if there were any of that, ... (click for more)

The Tennessee Society Daughters of the American Revolution has awarded the Chief John Ross Chapter, NSDAR with the Second Place Recognition for the number of points earned by activities related ... (click for more)


Memories

Wayne Shearer’s Special World War II Memoir Entry: Hearing About D-Day While In Texas

(Editor’s Note: In connection with the 75th anniversary of D-Day, Wayne Shearer, 94, is running his memoir entries from June 6, 1944, and immediately afterward in this entry. The regular series will pick back up beginning with late December 1943 in the next installment). On June 6, 1944, my aviation cadet pilot class was nearing the end of our 18-month training and we understood ... (click for more)

Chester Martin: Memories Of D-Day, 1944

I was only 9 years old at the time and schools had just let out for the summer. I do not remember any particular increase in 'war-talk' among the adult population, and if there were any of that, it never reached us kids. True, the adult population seemed to have followed a thin line of information, available on newspaper and radio news, but NO ONE in the civilian world had any inkling ... (click for more)

Breaking News

City Council Expanding Some Territory For Short Term Vacation Rentals; Approves No-Tax-Increase Budget

City Council members are eyeing changes in the popular short term vacation rental business, including some likely expansion of district boundaries. Councilwoman Demetrus Coonrod said one change she is seeking soon is to allow the rentals on the opposite side of Pinewood Lane. She also said at one section of Eastdale there are four residents interested in setting up the rentals. ... (click for more)

Councilwoman Demetrus Coonrod Says Black People "Can Come Downtown"; Says BID Has Nothing About "Black Removal"

City Councilwoman Demetrus Coonrod said Tuesday she is tired of some individuals saying that creation of a Business Improvement District (BID) means black people can't come downtown. She said, "I'm tired of the fact that the plight of black people is being used when it comes to those type conversations." She said, "We can come downtown. There are black people walking downtown ... (click for more)

Opinion

Why I Support Funding The Proposed Budget - And Response

Dear Commissioners of Hamilton County, I attended the District 3 community meeting with Commissioner Greg Martin and School Board Chairman Joe Wingate, who was filling in for District 3 Rep. Joe Smith. Commissioner Martin stated he had not made up his mind on how to vote for the tax increase at that time. He requested thoughtful input on why the citizens of his district wanted ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: VW Needs Big Repairs

The banner headline on Monday morning read, “Gov. Lee, top Republicans celebrate failed UAW bid to unionize Volkswagen,” and that’s the second-worst thing that the headline could have said. The worst, of course, is if the UAW had won, and the Detroit-based union that lost 35,000 members last year would be revived -- breaking a hole into the tight wall of foreign-owned auto assembly ... (click for more)