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Troops Go Home

It was August of 1969 when President Nixon began pulling the troops out of Vietnam and he started with the 9th Infantry Division.  Some of us went down each day to see them off.  It was utterly uplifting to watch those young men board buses back to The Real World, to know they had survived the war and would finally return to their family and friends.  Until then, they had left alone - as they had come.  We learned quickly that, when one of our regulars did not show up for our firebase programs, not to ask if he had gone home.  There was always the chance he had gone home in a coffin.

None of those going home in August had less than 30 days left in country.  They had all done their duty.  Years later I learned that they were brought back to the states and paraded around in front of cameras as if they were one unit - not a collection of guys from different units whose time was almost up.  The guy who told me was angry that they were used as propaganda when all they wanted to do was see their families.  It saddened me to hear that.  They deserved better.

The first firebase to be "turned over to the ARVNs" was Tiger's Lair.  We heard that the VC had immediately overrun the base and killed everyone who had worked for the Americans.  That really hurt.