Beyond The Wall
Few, if any, comparisons can be made to the monument that has occupied a corner of the National Mall for three decades now. Words fail to adequately convey the transformative and restorative power emanating from the polished stone that speaks in intimate whispers of individual sacrifice, mutual responsibility, acceptance and healing. As the nation celebrates the 30th anniversary of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial this November, we note that the spirit and dedication that brought it to fruition in 1982 to honor those who served in the Vietnam War carries on in 2012 to ensure that veterans of this and future generations are always welcomed home. Displaying the same audacity he had in 1979, when he outlandishly announced that a memorial to Vietnam veterans would be on the Mall by Veterans Day 1982, Jan Scruggs, president of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Foundation, already has Veterans Day 2014 in his sights for the dedication of the Education Center at The Wall. His imperative is that the center, which will also honor Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, be open to coincide with the homecoming of all U.S. combat troops from Afghanistan. Our reflection on The Wall, the drive of Scruggs and fellow veterans to achieve the improbable, the genius of Maya Lin, and the new era dawning with the Education Center and the launching of the Vietnam War 50th anniversary commemoration, begins on page 40.
In the summer of 1966, with the United States’ commitment to the war in Vietnam requiring hundreds of thousands of new soldiers, young men from all walks of life were thrown together to build the thousands of individual units preparing for combat. Author Andrew Wiest’s new book, The Boys of ’67, takes readers on an intimate journey with the men of one such unit, Charlie Company, 4th Battalion, 47th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division, as they bond during a year of training and endure a costly year of combat. In an excerpt from The Boys of ’67 (pg. 32), we experience this Vietnam-era band of brothers’ first encounter with the deadly reality of war.
In this issue’s cover story (pg. 24), retired Army Colonel Joseph Abodeely examines the evolution of the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) and how air cavalry reshaped the battlefield from its first test at Ia Drang to Khe Sanh and beyond. In “A Walk in Their Boots” (pg. 54), we see how the 1965 battle at LZ Albany—and the loyalty and sacrifice exhibited there—came to life in an inspiring project that brought veterans and high school students together. And in this month’s portfolio (pg. 48), former Army photographer Tom Lykens shares some of his stunning pictures that remind us how, even in the midst of war, everyday people persevere with courage and dignity.
Originally published in the December 2012 issue of Vietnam Magazine. To subscribe, click here.