The Times and Democrat’s “Vietnam: They Served With Honor” series enters its fourth week today. The series in which local veterans of the war are telling their stories has produced reaction.
• Veterans continue to make contact, with even those who do not wish to share their personal stories expressing appreciation for the opportunity provided to those who do.
• Readers say they are interested in the stories, with some making contact to offer names of still more veterans and/or tell the story of a veteran themselves.
• Reporters have found the interviews to be anything but ordinary. The veterans are frank and emotional. Their stories include graphic accounts from the war. One said after his interview that the session was very therapeutic.
• Veterans from as far as Louisiana have inquired about being part of the series, which is devoted to Vietnam veterans from The T&D Region.
• Friends and relatives of some who died in the war have come forward with articles, photos, records and memorabilia about those who are not to be forgotten.
The series appears in Sunday and Wednesday editions of The T&D through Veterans Day, Nov. 11, with a total of 25 profiles of living Vietnam veterans scheduled. Videos and related elements are part of the series at TheTandD.com. But there is a need to do more with the stories that don’t fit so readily into the plan, stories such as the one told by Orangeburg Vietnam veteran Harold Young.
Young is proud of his service in Vietnam, but it is not his story that he wants told. His letter that follows represents the first of the stories we plan to tell as supplements to the Vietnam series. Others will follow as the series continues.
Back in the late 1960s many veterans came home to no fanfare or great celebration.
Currently there are a great number of veterans that reside in Orangeburg County and the city of Orangeburg. But I would like to talk about one little section in particular. This area consists of Glover, Riggs, Maple, Fletcher, Salley, Rome, Enterprise and Week streets. This was a neighborhood that was well represented in the U.S. Armed Forces.
I grew up in this neighborhood on Glover Street. In 1974 a family member submitted an article to The Times and Democrat about my father, Mr. Sammie L. Young, who was a Navy Veteran of WWII. This article was about a family of four brothers who attended each branch of the service, the Army (82nd Airborne Division and 101st Airborne Division, 25th Infantry Division), Navy, Air Force and Marines. Two of my brothers served at the same time during the Vietnam War. One could have returned home, but he decided to stay and fight on.
Our little neighborhood was well represented in the Armed Forces through the Dozier, Houser, Knott, Thompson, Keith, Felder, Connor, Allen, West, Keitt, Holman, Pendarvis, Clark, Robinson, Saxon, Zeigler and Brown families. Each family had some representation in WWII, Korea and Vietnam.
The U.S. government must have heard about the strong background of these individuals who lived in this area, because about 95 percent of us were drafted into the military. Most of the veterans that were drafted from this area are now deceased, but oh the memories and experiences that we could tell, which I could go on and on about for days at a time.
We went from being a small group of friends to a family with one common bond …service, service for our country, family and community. I thank God every day for my neighborhood, our parents and families. They were our pillars of strength when we needed it the most.
• If you wish to tell a Vietnam-related story or offer an opinion, submit to T&D Editor Lee Harter at email@example.com