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Published: September 30, 2013 print this article Print save this article Save email this article Email ENLARGE TEXT increase font decrease font

Vets’ gracious host

I just returned home from a weeklong reunion of my Vietnam unit. It has been 46 years since we’ve each other but thought it seemed OK.
Aside from the great shows and attractions, this tourist town of 10,000 opened their hearts to us. they hugged us, held our hands and, yes, cried with us. The restaurants were gracious with us. Even the bartenders at the hotel stayed to the wee hours of the morning on their own time just to accommodate us.
We exchanged stories about our homecoming at America’s airports, how people threw Coke cups at us and called us babykillers. Not Branson. they welcomed us 46 years later with open arms. We felt a little sense of healing from a nation that did not support the war or give us the decency of a welcome home. That’s all right. Branson made us old farts leave with a small snese of we belong.
I went to Vietnam with a few hundred guys from western Pennsylvania. Forty four of them were killed, five from my graduatring class, during the Tet Offensive.
The sentiment of the guys from the reunion is that they would fight again for this country’s people at the drop of a hat, but not for our ungrateful government, which hung us out to dry.
The trip was a great learning experience for our wives, who got to see firsthand we’re not baby killers, jut husbands and fathers and now grandfathers.
If you can go to Branson once, do it. This is not your typical tourist town; these were genuiine Americans.
Our highlight came from 15,000 miles away. A South Vietnamese MP got his ankle run over by one of our Jeeps and one of our MPs carried him to a hospital, where he healed. He was so gracious to us that we all became friends. So we all decided to chip in and raised the money to fly him and his family to our reunionn. We all enjoyed his stories of Vietnam after we left.
So Branson, Mo., I salute you on behalf of the 218th Military Police Co., Nah Trang, Vietnam.




Jim Harff
Butler
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