Do Vietnam vets ever contact their buddies?

Not sure where to put this. I want a factual answer, but I’ll take observations and opinions, too. I’m reading Flashback: PTSD, Suicide and the Lessons of War , by Penny Coleman. She makes the argument that Vietnam was different from other wars because of the 365 day period of service, calling it a “war of individuals.” She says that because of the divisions in a unit between short timers, new guys and officers rotating in and out every 6 months, there wasn’t the same kind of cohesiveness that there was in previous wars. Do you agree with this?

She goes on to say [and here’s where I sat up and said, “huh?”] : “Vietnam vets almost never try to contact their former comrades.”

Fight my ignorance here. Is that true? Almost never?

Never have, never will. In fact, I avoid any and all vet groups, because they’re too morose and continuously bitch about how they got fucked over by the government. While it may be true, who wants to depress oneself by listening to it ad nauseum?

I know that some hang out in VFW places, but they might have met in those places, not in the war.

My Dad was drafted and spent two years in Vietnam. He doesn’t talk to many of his buddies, but there’s one that he visits with now and then. I think their friendship is based more on having worked together at IBM after the war, though.

Dad certainly has no interest in reliving or reminiscing about anything that he did in the Army, to the extent that he avoids watching Vietnam-themed movies. He HATED being in the military.

The vast majority of duty tours in VN were 12 months, not six. If you do a bit of searching, you will find hundreds, if not thousands, of VN unit web sites. Guys can post their experiences, which most often don’t have much to do w/ the horrors of war, but about buddies and mundane things, often humorous. Many of these units often sponser reunions which are popular w/ many.
You’ll find many varied estimates of the ratio of support to combat troops in VN, often it depends upon what you consider support. I believe a fair estimate is about 8 to 1, so most of the guys, and gals, who served there didn’t engage in active combat, although they may have had to deal w/ the aftermath, or have come under enemy fire from time to time. In my experience, w/ 23 years on active duty, military friendships are often close, especially in times of danger, but they are seldom lasting friendships. Military life, especially for career personnel, is a series of new places and new friends and/or comrades.

My dad was in Vietnam from 69 to 70. I can’t say that I know that he has ever contacted any of his buddies. You can get good buddies from serving side-by-side with them for just a year. Heck, just a week. But I’m willing to bet he’d rather have fond memories instead of a new friend in his life that reminds him of painful times.

My brother has kept in touch with at least one guy he met and served with in Viet Nam right up to the present day, in addition to having been pretty close friends already with one guy who he enlisted and served with (although they have not kept in touch much in recent years).

But as far as I know, he is not active in any veteran groups or activities like our father was with his WWII comrades in arms.

From my small sample size, I’d say there is less tendency for the Viet Nam vets to get together and stay connected than for the WWII vets. But I definitely wouldn’t go so far as to say almost never.

Yes. Every year the company I was with in Vietnam, Golf Co., 2nd Bn, 7th Marines, gets together for a reunion. We are in contact with some 700ish men who served with Golf company from July 1965 through September 1970.

We have anywhere from 50 to 125 show up each year with friends, family, and other camp followers.

Its something I look forward to all year. Wouldn’t miss one for anything.
Check out our web site at

My take on this would be Vietnam veterans do not stay in touch with their compatriots. With the short cycle and constant rotation, you rarely knew anyone for more than a couple of months. When you got out, you recognize the experience was so bizarre, so disconnected with life as we know it, that there is darned little to say to anybody.

There weren’t many vets at school and work, but when word got out that I’d been there people would acknowledge their service, but no war stories. It was more like just acknowledging a common experience if you wanted to talk about it.

I do have a good friend who I met in school before the war. When we returned, he felt the ‘common experience’ gave us an understanding apart from others. I don’t know. Our actual experiences were completely different. He recently told me he wondered how I got through the experience without flipping out. I don’t know, maybe I have flipped out. :smiley:

(my experience was certainly nothing heroic, just bizarre)

Anyway, the gist of it is, it was a unique experience that accepts no understanding and

My uncle was a Swift Boat sailor and keeps in contact with many of his fellow Swifties - even going to periodic reunions. He was even quoted in that “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” Kerry smear book. :dubious:

He’s Vietnamese, by the way - one of the few Vietnamese sailors to do a five year tour on the PCFs.

Your responses are really interesting and I’m glad I asked.

**SandyHook **, I spent and hour or so on your website last night and some of the pictures are phenomenal. Thanks for posting it. (You guys had a pet mongoose?)

I should add, as a contrasting example, that my dad did two tours in Vietnam as well, and to my knowledge he never, ever spoke to an Army acquaintance during my lifetime. His Army days were 1965-1968 or so and I was born in 1973, so maybe there were some relationships in the first few years that faded once he finished college and got married, but during my lifetime - nothing. I had no idea he even had any Army buddies until two of them showed up at his funeral, bearing a wreath from surviving members of his unit. That shit made me bawl.

Of course, he was an MP, so maybe he wasn’t that popular to begin with… :smiley: :wink:

This intrigues me. Was he anti-Kerry? Misquoted? Quoted on something more generally about Swift Boat service not specific to Kerry? Tell us more, please.

The quote was to do with Kerry’s allegations of atrocities by US soldiers, not about his service record. He said, “[Kerry] is a liar. He is a brother only to other liars - not to my Swift Boat brothers.” If you ever chance to pick up a copy of the book, you can find the quote easily - his name is Toi Dang and he’s in the index.

I asked Toi to elaborate on his feelings about Kerry. He wouldn’t directly contradict the official accounts of Kerry’s service record, since he didn’t serve directly with Kerry, but he dislikes him pretty intensely for some reason. He says the feeling (disliking Kerry) is pretty pervasive among other PCF vets he knows, even ones who didn’t take part in the whole “Swift Boat Vets for Truth” thing.

My husband is always being asked to meet up with his old unit in one city or another. They are a pretty tight bunch, I guess, but Mr. K has no memory of most of the guys he served with and no wish to spend the time it takes to tell them “no, I won’t be attending.” He feels absolutely no sense of personal connection to them, though he strongly identifies as a Marine. Go figure.

Thats all the lying sack of shit needs to say. Scumbag piece of shit should put his money where his mouth is. I.E. actual observations.

ETA: I served in Iraq and the only guys I would want to stay in touch with are dead. One was shot down trying to rescue a downed pilot and one killed himself when he found out his wife left him for a remf. Most of the other guys were shitheads that I have no interest in ever seeing. Nevertheless I am a dues paying member of VFW.

Um…did I miss a move to the Pit? If not, then keep your invective to yourself. This is a member of my family here, whom I respect and, incidentally, live with and help care for. And to recap and perhaps clarify, he declined (both for the book and when I asked him) to comment on Kerry’s service record for the very reason that he wasn’t there in person. The beginning and end of his involvement with Kerry was that he disliked and resented him for his testimony about US atrocities against civilians in Vietnam, and according to my uncle, most of the other Swift Boat vets he knew felt the same way about Kerry.

Are you suggesting that atrocities did not occur? I am sorry a member of your family is such a liar but there is nothing I can do about that. I served in the gulf war and both my father and my uncle served in Vietnam as well as many of my superior officers. My cousin served in in Panama and Grenada. I have an uncle who served in Korea and my grandfather served in WWII. So yes, atrocities occur. If your family member says different then he is a liar.

askeptic, you are completely out of line for this forum. I believe you know where the Pit is.

Anyone interested in further discussion of Kerry and Swift Boats should open a new thread in whatever forum they feel appropriate. That’s not what this thread is about.