Dear Vietnam vet,
That simple message went AWOL during the complex time of the Vietnam War.
America's involvement began in earnest 50 years ago -- some say with the landing of the 9th Marine Expeditionary Brigade at Da Nang on March 8, 1965.
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Before the last Marine left in 1975, America had deployed 2.7 million service members to Vietnam, with about 58,000 killed and 158,000 wounded. Fourteen of the dead were from Beaufort County, according to the National Archives.
Veterans say that when they got home, they were treated with indifference at best.
Most of them are by now considered senior citizens. The ones who will talk about it say the casualties didn't stop when the war ended.
Maybe a simple "thank you" will help.
The Emily Geiger Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution has organized an event to honor and thank those who served in Vietnam.
It's part a national effort this year by the DAR. The nation is honoring Vietnam veterans this year by an act of Congress in 2008.
Bonnie Wade Mucia of Bluffton jumped right on her DAR chapter's effort.
Her father served two tours in Vietnam. He was a Marine Corps machine gunner during the Tet Offensive. He got home with two Purple Hearts, but was treated horribly, she said. He suffered post traumatic stress disorder and was dead at age 43.
"I've had grown men cry," Mucia said about the months she's spent trying to get the word out to Vietnam veterans and their loved ones about the Bluffton event.
"I cry and they cry. A lot of these men never got anything. Some ask, 'Why should I come to this event?' It's a tribute and a thank you."
About 150 vets have signed up. But Mucia thinks the Vietnam guys are not "joiners." She has 500 chairs ready for the patriotic ceremony that is to begin at 2 p.m. at the Rotary Community Center at Oscar Frazier Park.
Mucia wants it to be Bluffton's version of a ticker tape parade.
She wants a personal "thank-you" note to give each veteran. To receive letters, she set up a post office box, a Facebook page called DearVietnamVet, and an email account: DearVietnamVet@gmail.com.
"We need to make amends to these patriotic heroes," Wade writes on the Facebook page. "Please help me to do that by writing a letter to a Vietnam Vet thanking them for their patriotic, honorable, heroic service. It's 50 years too long."
Send letters thanking a veteran to: firstname.lastname@example.org -or- Dear Vietnam Vet PO Box 1383 Bluffton SC 29910
IF YOU GO:
What: Tribute and thank you to Vietnam veterans.
When: 2 p.m. Saturday, March 14, at the Rotary Community Center at Oscar Frazier Park, 11 Recreation Court, Bluffton. Information: 843-384-1477.
Read more here: http://www.islandpacket.com/2015/03/05/3627113_lauderdale-send-a-belated-thank.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy