They were barely old enough to vote, but they faced death at an age when their adult lives were just beginning, and the experience changed them all. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the decision to send U.S. combat troops to Vietnam. Hundreds of thousands served.
More than 58,000 didn’t come home, 3,415 of them from Texas, whose losses were third only to New York and California. The rest, some haunted by memories of dying buddies and bloody battles, came home to angry protests, a silent majority that refused to speak up, and the broken promises of a country that seemed determined to forget the divisive war.
Veteran KWTX-TV producers, photojournalists and editors Jim Peeler and Don Smith, have spent months gathering their stories for a two-part documentary, “We Can’t Forget: Vietnam,” which airs at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 11 and Nov. 12 on KWTX. From a distance of five decades, the veterans they interviewed speak candidly and frankly, some for the first time, about their experiences both during and after the conflict. Their raw, unvarnished memories reveal just how deeply the experience affected them. They say that while they may not have been members of the Greatest Generation, they are the greatest members of their generation. But they say their sacrifices have gone unacknowledged, the good deeds of most tainted by the bad deeds of a few.