View Full Version : Looking Back...

07-15-02, 06:52 PM
The Jacksonville Daily News
April 28, 2002

On March 29, 1973, the last combat troops officially withdrew from the Republic of Vietnam, leaving behind Marines to guard American installations and civilian advisors.

Two years later, on April 29, 1975, two U.S. Marines died in an attack on Tan Son Nhut air base only hours before the final U.S. presence in the Southeast Asian country lifted off from the embassy roof and left the country, ending years of American involvement in conflict and bloodshed. Those two Marines were the last Americans to die in the Vietnam War.

Looking back from the vantage point of nearly three decades, it’s difficult now to believe that so many young men were sacrificed. There were no lost rights restored, no liberty gained.

The numbers themselves are horrifying: Three million Americans served in Vietnam and, of those, 58,000 died, another 1,000 listed as missing and more than 150,000 seriously wounded. Most of those who died were young men straight out of high school — kids who hadn’t the time or the direction to nail down a future. Instead of getting jobs or going to college, meeting the right girl, settling down and having a family, these young men ended up carving their way through steaming jungles, fighting a war that wasn’t theirs to win.

The Vietnam War became the main argument for change in the way America goes to war. No longer would the American public simply accept the word of politicians and generals that our presence in a war zone or conflict was of the essence. Instead, they would question every deployment, dissect every move and remain skeptical of U.S. troop commitment overseas.

Onslow County is home to many Vietnam veterans — men and women who answered their country’s call and served honorably, even though their country failed them.

It is also home to families who lost someone in that conflict, like Ted and June Cobun who lost their son, also named Ted, at the age of 20. They’re not alone. There are others in Onslow County who lost brothers and fathers, sons and daughters in a conflict that made little sense at the time and even less sense when glimpsed in the rear-view mirror of history.

Today, there is little to justify what took place in Southeast Asia, and nothing that can bring back the loved ones sacrificed nor restore those wounded both physically and emotionally. But this is one community that treasures the men and women who served there and honors their valor and dedication.

Their sacrifices and those of their families are no different than those of any other soldier, sailor, airman or Marine from any of America’s other wars, and they deserve the nation’s respect and gratitude for what they gave.