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Displaying items by tag: Bob Addison

Thursday, 30 October 2014 14:19

Vietnam Veterans Visit School

SSHS Students Learn From Firsthand Oral Histories

By Arthur Gonick 

Saratoga TODAY

 

SARATOGA SPRINGS – As part of a nationwide effort to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the ceasing of hostilities in Vietnam, the city of Saratoga Springs became one of the first to enroll as a commemorative partner in this effort. The roster of partners is now 100 in New York State and over 6,000 in the United States. 

 

There will be many activities scheduled by the appointed committee in this city, which is taking its role quite seriously. But none will probably be more important and instructive than those that occurred for two days this week. 

 

On Tuesday, Oct. 28 and Wednesday, Oct. 29 a panel of about a dozen veterans of the Vietnam war – drawn from all walks of life, all service company’s, some local, some regional and some who traveled a good distance – met with several classes of students at Saratoga Springs High School to share their experiences and pass on the history of that conflict. 

 

“This was a great experience for the students,” said Teacher Ron Schorpp, whose War and Diplomacy class, a mix of 11th and 12th graders, were in attendance. Over the two-day program, nearly 200 students attended. “After the city became an official partner, I was very glad that Jim Hartman (a member of the local committee who was part of the panel. Jim served in USAF Intelligence and was in Vietnam in 1970) reached out to us.” He said. 

 

“The students were attentive and asked some really interesting questions.” Schorpp said. Those questions ran the gamut: ranging from asking each what was the first thing they did when they finally came home, to the Veteran’s thoughts on how we should battle ISIS and the broader question of when and if to commit troops overseas. 

 

With a diverse panel assembled, a variety of thoughts and experiences were to be expected. But what was striking about this presentation is how the student exhibited rapt attention – particularly noticeable because the presentation itself was fairly sparse – no multi-media and scarcely any props save some yellowing newspaper clippings. Just men sharing and students listening. And it was stunning in it’s simplicity. 

 

Some examples: 

 

Marine Dave Kissick came home to be a Principal at Lansingburgh High School. He focused on the “What if?” aspect of history, noting that service in Vietnam was “nothing like HBO” – referring to Band of Brothers which got many knowing nods from all in the assembly. 

 

Lew Benton recalled being drafted into the Army at age 25, after having been married, and feeling grateful that he was able to serve as a medic – that thought tempered by the sobering reality that he treated about 1,000 combat wounds during his service. 

 

25th Infantryman Don Little, now the head of the County’s VETHELP program: “I didn’t know how much military service would affect my life… once, I didn’t want anyone to even know I served. Now I’m proud.”

 

Roy McDonald served in the Army and later came home to a career in the state senate. “The best part of service in Vietnam: The people. All kinds were accepted – we were all family.”

 

The worst part: “Everything else. Romance about war is a movie – not reality… you could tell what people cared about by what they carried in their pockets – family photos, mementoes of home. I never forget every day that I have 60,000 reasons to be thankful,” referring to the number of people lost in the conflict.

 

Other veterans expressed concepts like “survivor’s guilt” and their experiences under friendly fire. 

 

Jim Coyne was the military “lifer” of the group. 36 years service; rising from the rank of Private to Colonel. He used his time as a teaching moment, giving students baseline facts and figures that don’t appear in movies. For instance, Vietnam, a country of 19 million people, is only 10 percent Buddhist. 

 

The teaching was interspersed with good humor, as Coyne noted that some of his biggest wish list items in the field were “toilet paper and ice,” but never unmindful of how lucky he was to come through Vietnam alive. 

  

This event at Saratoga Springs High School was but one of several scheduled in our city, showing it’s commitment to do the important work of being a true commemorative partner – that this will be more than sewing a patch on a jacket or a hat. 

 

Events like today are not as showy as a parade, but serve incredibly important purposes. Chief among them is to educate and, hopefully, learn from the inhumanity of war. Specifically in the case of all our Vietnam veterans, events such as these serve to bestow honor to them for their service to our country that, in most cases, they never received. 

 

Their long overdue welcome home is finally just beginning now. Today was one example of a promise kept that everyone should be proud to see play out.

 

For more information, visit vietnamwar50th.com

Published in News
Friday, 28 February 2014 10:38

A Voice For Veterans: Vietnam War Commemoration

Setting aside political views and personal perspectives involving the Vietnam War era, let’s focus on those individuals for their service and sacrifice to our nation—leaving loved ones behind for a tumultuous unknown—and honor our Vietnam War veterans and their families as the 50th Anniversary to the war’s end approaches. Since decided upon by the Saratoga Springs City Council in the fall of 2013, to commemorate the ending of the Vietnam War, a committee was established with its goal to honor those veterans. In doing so, on Saturday, March 29 from 1-3 p.m., a Vietnam War commemoration will be held at the NYS Military Museum located at 61 Lake Avenue. This tribute is sponsored by the Capital District of New York Chapter (CDNY) of the Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA). It will incorporate a discussion from the Panel of Vietnam War Veterans, conveying their personal stories and experiences from theirs tour(s) in Vietnam and answering questions from the audience. There will also be a presentation to the NYS Military Museum. It will be the first time the Panel will be together as a group, as it was created solely for this March 29 event. It is one of many events the organization will be planning for the future (for further information regarding the Capital District of NY Chapter of the Association of the U.S. Army, visit www.ausacdny.com for details). Also highlighted is a Proclamation by Mayor Joanne Yepsen as well as the presentation of Jungle Warriors—Service and Sacrifice, a spectacular celebratory print offered to the Museum by artist and photographer, Jim Ryan, who is an executive with Media Solutions, Ratheon Technology Services Group. Mr. Ryan incidentally creates a painting each year capturing the very essence of our military fighting forces and has received numerous awards in recognition of his paintings. Nicholas M. Laiacona, President of the Northern NYS Chapter of the Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA) and retired Lieutenant Colonel (LTC), with over 24 years of service in the U.S. Army, served from October 1968 to October 1969 as a First Lieutenant in Vietnam. Barry Hartman, who served 31 years in the U.S. Army and 14 years in the New York Guard, is a retired Brigadier General (BG) who also served his country with two tours in Vietnam (August 1967 to August 1968 and June 1972 to March 1973) and Vice President Retiree & Veterans Affairs of the Capital District of NY Chapter of the AUSA. The AUSA is a private, non-profit educational organization that meets monthly and supports all aspects and ranks of America’s Army—from active Army to National Guard and Reserves, to retired and wounded soldiers as well as their family members. This organization has 125 chapters throughout the United States, five in New York State, and there are 308 members within the Capital District of NY Chapter, consisting entirely of dedicated volunteers working tirelessly to provide recreation and educational opportunities to soldiers and their families. Another important factor of the organization is providing support to deployed soldiers as well as their family members who are left home, enduring the daily challenges from having a loved one overseas. The AUSA’s mission is straight forward and their vision and core values are equally as important, representing soldiers and families, from being their voice when lobbying in Congress to advocating support for these service members. Becoming the Premier voice of all components of America’s Army and fostering public support, LTC Nick Laiacona and BG Barry Hartman affirm harmoniously. LTC Laiacona recites, “The AUSA represents every American soldier by being the voice of all components of America’s Army, fostering public support of the Army’s role in national security, providing professional educational and information programs. Our main interest is supporting soldiers directly and their families.” BG Hartman agrees, “Yes, we are here for the families of those soldiers, too. Supporting the families is an important part of the AUSA.” This non-profit organization accomplishes its mission to its members and the community by fostering public support through the various chapters located within the state, as well as nationwide, by their Institute of Land Warfare, Industry Affairs meetings and events and through the Government Affairs Office. For example, a local fundraising event held at the Glens Falls Civic Center is being sponsored by the AUSA. On the evening on March 29, a Military Appreciation Night with a Gongshow hockey game between the Phantoms and the Springfield Falcons begins at 7 p.m. with giveaways throughout the entire game. For further information and cost for this specific event contact the Phantoms Office (518) 480-3355 or visit Phantomshockey.com. Turning back to the main event and panel discussion, March 29 is a date specific and intentional, reflective of Vietnam War Commemoration Day. It was that particular date in 1973 that the last U.S. Forces left the Republic of Vietnam (RVN). As one will recall in a very brief overview, Vietnam was a French colony. Vietnamese rebelled for independence, destroying occupying French forces. In 1962-63, the United States provided “military advisors” to oppose North Vietnam from imposing a communist system over that entire nation. It slowly developed into war and was fully engaged in 1965. Fighting continued until the Fall of Saigon in 1973. “I have many memories, some more vivid than others,” BG Hartman ruminates. “The salient memory for this event is that I was the last American to leave Hue (January 28, 1973) and on the last plane out of Da Nang (March 29, 1973) and the next to last plane out of the Republic of Vietnam, which will be the essence of my remarks on the Panel.” LTC Laiacona’s memories of his tour are more unrefined. “I remember my first combat operation and seeing green tracer bullets flying over my head…The US Army uses red tracer bullets,” LTC Laiacona said. “Another vivid memory is finding out my best friend from Infantry Officer Candidate School (Fort Benning, Georgia) was killed while serving as a Platoon Leader of a Long Range Recon Patrol (LRRP). I escorted his body back to the United States; he was 21 years old.” As the country approaches this significant date, March 29, and the 50th Anniversary of the ending of the U.S. Military involvement in the Vietnam War, the AUSA has collaborated with the City of Saratoga Springs and the NYS Military Museum to honor our nation’s Vietnam War Veterans and family members for their service and sacrifice, which wasn’t as recognized back during war time and the years following shortly thereafter. The CDNY Chapter of the AUSA will continue with its quest to honor those serving during the Vietnam War by sponsoring and working together with their various chapters nationwide to pay tribute to these veterans. For more information about the Association of the U.S. Army, visit the national website www.AUSA.org. For further details regarding the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration, contact (877) 387-9951 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit www.vietnamwar50th.com for additional details. Please take a moment to honor our Vietnam veterans and their family members, and as always, we thank all of our veterans and their families for all that you do. See you next month, here at SaratogaTODAY.
Published in News

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