View Full Version : Going Back to Vietnam

03-05-03, 06:57 AM
Joe Galloway

March 3, 2003

This week more than 70 very special American ambassadors land in Vietnam on a unique journey of remembrance and healing. Called Sons and Daughters in Touch, they are the sons and daughters of some of the 58,229 Americans who died in the Vietnam War and whose names are carved in the black granite of The Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

This week they are going back to the land where their fathers laid down their lives in the name of our country; they are going back to walk the very earth where their dads fell.

Some are going there simply to walk in their fathers' footsteps, to breath some of the same air and grow a little closer to someone they never knew. Others hope that the journey of remembrance might also turn into a journey of forgiveness; a journey toward turning loose any hatred of the Vietnamese that still lingers in their hearts.

These sons and daughters -- and all America's sons and daughters -- hope and pray that if there is another war with Iraq there won't be a whole new generation growing up without fathers.

"They are the Gold Star Children. They have an empty spot in their hearts where a father was supposed to dwell ... They listen still for the sound of a footstep they have never heard, and wonder what might have been."

Those are some words I wrote in "We Were Soldiers Once ... and Young" after I interviewed a number of the children of men who died in the Ia Drang Valley in November 1965. But the words are meant for all of them.

The Sons and Daughters delegation landing in Vietnam is led by Tony Cordero, whose father disappeared in a U.S. Air Force jet on a mission over Laos on Father's Day, 1965, when he was four years old. A quarter-century later Tony got the idea to reach out and find others who shared the same loss.

A 1990 Memorial Day article about Tony and Sons and Daughters in Parade Magazine brought an outpouring of letters from hundreds of other sons and daughters all across America. That in turn led to the first Father's Day at The Wall in 1992. There have been three more Father's Days at The Wall in Washington, D.C., since that one. Each one larger than the last.

How many Sons and Daughters are out there? The estimate is that one-third of the 58,229 Americans on The Wall were dads and they left behind more than 20,000 children.

I know a little something about these people from the interviews I did for the book. I know a lot more because my wife, Karen Metsker Galloway, is one of them. Her dad, Capt. Tom Metsker, was killed in Landing Zone XRay in the battle my book is about. Lives are changed forever by the course of a single bullet in war.

In search of a view of a father never seen we have visited The Citadel in Charleston, S.C., where Tom Metsker was a track star. Karen hoped to possibly find some old training film that showed her dad in '59 or '60 or '61 before he graduated and was commissioned in the Army. There was none. But she did find three of her dad's classmates and track team members who sat for hours and shared their memories of him.

It is a tough job, trying to construct a memory of someone you have no memory of ever seeing or hearing. But Karen and a lot of other sons and daughters go about that process daily.

In the interest of full disclosure, I must also tell you that I am an Honorary Life Member of Sons and Daughters in Touch, an honor bestowed at the Father's Day 2000 gathering. I think I have attended every single one of their Father's Days at The Wall. I must admit my prejudice. I love these folks.

The delegation will tour Vietnam for the better part of three weeks, splitting up in small groups to visit the particular areas where their dads served. They will post some of their observations at http://www.virtualwall.org/sdit/ You can read more about the organization at http://www.sdit.org.



03-12-03, 12:35 PM
Sons and Daughters follow their fathers' last footsteps

Follow their journey with daily reports on a web site:

While our nation both debates and prepares for a new war, 65 sons and daughters of men who died in the Vietnam war more than 30 years ago are tracing their fathers' final footsteps in Southeast Asia.

The members of Sons and Daughters In Touch, http://www.SDIT.org
have been planning the trip for three years with many going to either the exact spot where their father became a casualty or to the base he served at. A place that ended their Dad's life and dramatically changed their own.

Some were teenagers when they waved goodbye to their Dads but others were born a short time after his death.
Several letters describe poignant encounters with that fateful location and the culture and people of Vietnam.

The trip ends March 16th but the letters and pictures shall remain in place at http://www.VirtualWall.org/sdit/

The phrase "The Virtual Wall" is a registered trademark of http://www.virtualwall.org/ Ltd. Since 1997 publishing personal memorials
to Vietnam War casualties with the honor their sacrifice has earned.

GOD BLESS OUR MEN & WOMEN IN UNIFORM - For Them, It's not about Politics or "Loving War."

(America, please do not let American Enemies From "IN or OUT" of America... do to today's brave men and women of our military, what they were allowed to do during and after the Vietnam War)

CAProductions - Americans Working Together For The Truth (over 65,000 visitors in two years)