Combat vs. Non-Combat Military Veterans

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RSteve

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I think there is an incredibly large divide between the two. One of my closest friends retired from the Army as a Command Sergeant Major. He served 27 years without ever being engaged in combat. I served two years in the Army, discharged as E-6; 15 months in Vietnam, 7/68 thru 9/69. He reminisces endlessly about his wonderful service time and how angry he was that his last physical ended his time in service. I don't talk about my time in service to anyone but another VietVet combat veteran.
I was a co-author of the legislation in MN that awarded Vietnam Veterans a cash bonus. It was written, originally, to award veterans of all branches who served in country during the war, whether they were combat troop or recreation leader in Cam Ran Bay. Each veteran was to get a bonus based on months served, minimum $1000. The most vehement opposition to the proposed legislation came from the Minnesota American Legion and the U. of MN Campus Veterans Club (which had no VietVets in its membership). They lobbied hard to make the bonus a Vietnam Era bonus, payable to every MN veteran, whether they served in Vietnam or at Fort Snelling in MN. It wound up an era bonus for $300 for every veteran. My son-in-law's father is close to my age. He did six years Air Force, never a second of combat. He talks about his service as the best time of his life.
Some of us see dead and wounded in our sleep.
 
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D.L.Ruth

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I have done 3 trips to Iraq (1 fifteen month tour and 2 six month tours), one trip to Lebanon, one trip to Korea (obviously not combat anymore but was an awesome 9 months), and one yep to Syria. So in all six combat tours and one "fun" tour. Still got about four years till retirement so we'll where that takes me.
 

RSteve

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Still got about four years till retirement so we'll where that takes me.
Hopefully, those four years will be uneventful and no one will ever refer to you as "a sucker and a loser" for serving our great country.
 

RSteve

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Lately, I've been lobbying for disabled veterans to get comprehensive dental care. Most people don't know that of the 50+ thousand homeless veterans very few don't have serious dental problems.
 

peanubutter

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Thank you for your service.

I did not serve in any combat areas and can't imagine the horrors, travesty, and destruction so many others had endured. I do feel satisfied with serving my country regardless of my location(s).
 

Blackhorse

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Hmmm. Just because some REMF didn’t see combat it wasn’t likely their fault. Just a roll of the dice in some clerk’s office where unit assignments are made. And just going to a combat zone doesn’t make one a combat vet. Again, it’s chance not choice that took them there one way or t’other. Heck, I was assigned to the 11th Armored Cavalry, one of the hottest combat units in Nam, as a medic. I came under enemy fire and slept through gas attacks. But I don’t claim to be a combat vet. Just kinda unlucky on occasion. Sure, I did my part...but my real respect goes to the boys of today’s military...doing 3, 4, 5 and more tours. OMG. My hat’s off to you gents, for real.
 

ftrplt

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We received $60 or 65 per month "combat pay" during certain periods of declared conflict! 'Nam being one!! So...while there I (and a zillion others!!) were paid a glorious $2/day for the privilege being shot at by the foe!! My only "beef" with many of my fellow aviators were the Staff/State-Siders/Higher ranking/fly-once or twice a month set, as they conveniently scheduled themselves to fly into a "combat zone" at the end of a given month and fly out on the first of the next month...thusly claiming two months of "combat pay!!"
 

Ranger107

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RSteve, I respect all veterans, however I see your point as well. Out of all the viet nam era vets less than 25% saw actual combat. And there are those who laud their military career as dangerous but never saw actual combat. Ex. We had a former army infantry officer in the rangers who was our range training officer. He had been to gunsight a couple of times and tried to make us "warriors" and was adamant about our expected reaction should we get into an actual "gun fight". One day I asked him if he had ever actually been in a firefight? He admitted that no, he spent all his time in training. I told him that until you have experienced rounds coming your way do NOT tell me how to react. After two 9 month tours in the jungle with spec ops and getting shot twice I can attest that if you don't crap your pants the first time, you are incredibly brave or stupid. I still respect those who did what they were asked, regardless of where and how. But when I found out that the Air Force issued bronze stars to drone pilots sitting in Mojave I threw mine away.
as a proud draftee ('68) and RVN vet.. I went where I was told and did what I was told.
Bull, yes, as did all , or at least most of the draftees of that era. I volunteered for the spec ops detail so I knew what I was letting myself in for, but I met a lot of draftees who hadn't chosen to be there but still did their duty just like I did. I remember one young guy in particular. A black guy from Arkansas. His parents were sharecroppers on a cotton plantation in south AR. Kind of reminded me of Bubba in the forrest gump movie. Not physically cause he was tall and lanky, but in many other respects. In spite of being the sole remaining son in the family he was drafted anyway. Heard about 2 months later that he had been KIA. Very sad that he didn't make it home.
 

RSteve

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After two 9 month tours in the jungle with spec ops and getting shot twice I can attest that if you don't crap your pants the first time, you are incredibly brave or stupid. .
For a reason I can't explain, while in old age, that sentence made me laugh. So many guys, the first time they experienced live fire, were in such disbelief that they actually did foul themselves. Regarding that <25% statistic, I wonder if that number is solely based on support MOS statistics?
 

Ranger107

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For a reason I can't explain, while in old age, that sentence made me laugh. So many guys, the first time they experienced live fire, were in such disbelief that they actually did foul themselves. Regarding that <25% statistic, I wonder if that number is solely based on support MOS statistics?
Actually I was being a bit facetious, but yes it did happen. We had gone through live fire exercises in training but the difference is that you knew no one was trying to kill you. My first op in country about half of our 14 man unit were seasoned combat vets. The other half like myself were green as grass in spite of special training. Second day of a 5 day op we got into a firefight with a north vietnamese patrol of about 30. Lasted for almost an hour before they retreated. Took me two days to quit shaking. Was a couple of months before I didn't "pucker up" at the sound of gunfire..
 

Corncobcon

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I didn't see any combat, but I saw enough stupidity while on tour in Germany playing "war games". I almost lost my lunch when I
saw a 107 run over their ground guide. Don't know if it was carelessness on the driver or the guide.

While on leave back to my home town, I stepped off the bus and immediately was called all sorts of names from bystanders. I started walking
up the hill for the 3 mile trek home when I passed several guys who pushed me into the street. almost in front of an oncoming car. They then
laughed and started yelling obscenities at me. Another guy then came running down the street screaming at them and started throwing punches.
I joined in and the others ran off. I went to thank him and he realized that both of us graduated in the same high school class. He called out my name
and I new the voice but didn't recognize him at first. Then I new it was my old buddy, Walter, his face was all mangled, missing an ear, hands were just
clubs, he was a mess. It turns out that he enlisted in the Army and was sent to Nam. He was there only a week when his squad stepped on a mine.
We talked for a while. I was almost embarrassed to tell him I went to Germany. We then walked together until I got home. He refused a ride. That was
the last time I saw him. I normally don't talk about this stuff, but I felt it needed to be said. I have a lot more respect for those who came back. Two of
my high school friends did not.
 

Ranger107

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I didn't see any combat, but I saw enough stupidity while on tour in Germany playing "war games". I almost lost my lunch when I
saw a 107 run over their ground guide. Don't know if it was carelessness on the driver or the guide.

While on leave back to my home town, I stepped off the bus and immediately was called all sorts of names from bystanders. I started walking
up the hill for the 3 mile trek home when I passed several guys who pushed me into the street. almost in front of an oncoming car. They then
laughed and started yelling obscenities at me. Another guy then came running down the street screaming at them and started throwing punches.
I joined in and the others ran off. I went to thank him and he realized that both of us graduated in the same high school class. He called out my name
and I new the voice but didn't recognize him at first. Then I new it was my old buddy, Walter, his face was all mangled, missing an ear, hands were just
clubs, he was a mess. It turns out that he enlisted in the Army and was sent to Nam. He was there only a week when his squad stepped on a mine.
We talked for a while. I was almost embarrassed to tell him I went to Germany. We then walked together until I got home. He refused a ride. That was
the last time I saw him. I normally don't talk about this stuff, but I felt it needed to be said. I have a lot more respect for those who came back. Two of
my high school friends did not.
Corncob, I can relate. Because I got an early out I stayed in the reserves and was doing weekend drills in Des Moines while attending ISU. One afternoon coming home from drill, I had my buddy that I had carpooled with drop me off in campustown about 2 blocks from my apt. I was in uniform. A protest group was gathered at the student union about 50 yards away. One guy saw me, ran over and spit on my uniform. I am a pretty big guy, 6'2" , 200 lbs. at the time and still strong from my tour. He was about 5'7" and maybe 165. I reached out grabbed him under the throat and picked him up about 6" off the ground. I said, you ever spit on this uniform again and I will beat the crap out of you. I then tossed him about 4 feet away. He got up and ran like hell. Like you I hardly ever talk about my experiences but I feel that folks on here are more likely to understand what we went through.
 
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