27 "Viet Nam Vets"

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In this hub I have mentioned that I would like to locate John Keith Kender. Nick has taken that a step further and posted this hub, http://nick071438.hubpages.com/hub/An-open-letter-to-John-Keith-Kender.

He did this out of the goog of his heart to help us locate John because his mother is ill and she would like to know that her son is at least OK. Though I know she would love to see him again. Please visit Nick's hub. It also has some very important information about Viet Nam and the war. Thank you Nick and all hubbers. Greg

Treatment of Viet Nam Vets.

Viet Nam Vets

While posting this hub I am in hopes that if anyone knows John Keith Kender they might let me know. I just found out he might be located somewhere in Florida. If you do know him, please let him know that his family would love very much for him to come home or at least let them know he is OK. Especially his mother really needs to know.

I enlisted in the Air Force in 1964, during the Viet Nam War. At the time I went in I spent 10 weeks in basic training. We spent 6 weeks for all enlisted airmen. If you weren’t going to tech. school then you stayed in basic training for another 4 weeks, phase 2. I was selected for OJT, (On Job Training) to train as a baker in the food service of our troops so I stayed another 4 weeks. If you were selected for tech. school, then you would finish your basic training at the training center. And what basic training we had never prepared us enough to go to war. Not the war that we were in at that time. But then, I guess you can never be prepared for any war with just basic training and no previous experience with death.

Our troops were sent to war with some, but not enough training to be able to deal with the experiences and atrocities they would encounter. They were trained how to handle and fire guns and other weapons. If they were in any of the Special Forces they received even more concentrated training. But none of them would be prepared for the real life, or should I say death, that they would encounter. That’s something no one can ever train for, but the majority of the boys were just out of school and weren’t old enough to vote but they were old enough to be forced to go over there and kill or be killed. I realize the majority of the soldiers that go over now are just out of school too. The difference is, the boys back then were drafted or forced to go and most were not psychologically ready for what they would face.

Anyway, where I am leading is to the lack of respect that our troops received when they returned after having served “their” country in Viet Nam. They were treated, most of the time, like they were the ones that caused, or were the reason for the war. That is, those who were “lucky” enough to return. I emphasize the word “lucky” this way because there were those who actually wished they had died over there instead of coming back and having to live with what they experienced and the treatment they received upon their return. I lost friends over there, as I know a lot of us did, and I have friends and know of others that have never been the same since they returned from that nightmare. They were exposed to such horrific sights and experiences that they can never erase from their memories, even after almost a half century.

The thing is, these men and women have had to fight some on going battles, psychological and physical, ever since returning to their country. Some of them have never been able to live a “normal” life after the experiences they encountered over there and here upon their return. The movie “First Blood” was an exaggerated example, but I am sure there were some that went to that extreme as for the way “Rambo” was treated on the soil that he had fought to defend.

I am going to use a real life example where no one was hurt, physically that is. The family and friends had their hearts broken because John just never was the same loving person after returning from that war. Not the same man he was before he left.

John, like me, went to the recruiter to enlist because he wanted to serve his country because he felt that was the thing to do. (Or maybe it was just because he had to deal with six sisters at home. Just kidding, he loved his sisters.) Also, John had an uncle that was in the military and was an inspiration for John’s decision to enlist. When John went to the recruiter they should have never accepted him or at least informed him that he would never be expected to be assigned to a tour in Viet Nam. He was an only surviving son to carry on the family name. He had six sisters, but he was an only son. The family knew nothing about this until he was in for awhile. When they found out he was already in Viet Nam. Then the mother was trying to get him back to the States, on those grounds.

Wait a minute. I’m getting ahead of myself. One of the things I wanted to point out is the fact about how much the whole experience changed his life.

John grew up in a loving family with six sisters. Naturally, the sisters would pick on John because he was the only boy. I had that problem too, but only two sisters. But, if anyone else ever picked on John, the sisters would come down on them like a swarm of Banshees. My sisters would do the same thing. That’s the way families are supposed to work.

According to the sisters, John was a bit on the shy side. He would always be involved in family affairs and close to family. He was sometimes bullied at school, but never to the point where he would go and hide or be withdrawn. He did have personal friends and would do things with them. This was all before he went into the Air Force.

John went down at the age of 18 and proudly enlisted into the United States Air Force. He managed the rigors of basic training. He was assigned to an Air Force installation in Rome, NY for a short time and then was shipped over to Viet Nam. He served in the Air Force as a Fireman’s Assistant. His family found out that he was not required to be assigned to a war zone because he was the only surviving son to carry on the family name of Kender. With that his mother went through all the procedures to have him returned home. For some reason, because of the request to have him return home, the Air Force actually discharged him with other than an “honorable discharge”. I feel he got a raw deal on this and I don’t have all the details. I do know he did end up serving his complete tour of duty in Viet Nam and his full 4 years, but I feel it was wrong because he was still treated like an outcast by so many because the experience over there effected him so much in his personality once he returned.

Anyway, the whole idea of this story is to show how the war changed people and it seemed that back then no one could understand why. John did complete his tour of duty over there and when he came back and finished his time they gave him the discharge. He was there long enough to see the atrocities and experience the horrific scenes to bring back what he remembered every day of his life.

John was never the same after his return. He was withdrawn and somewhat of a loner. His sisters said he would get mad and lose his temper very easily after he came home, and it gradually got worse with time. Nothing like the John and loving brother they knew before. He would attend family functions but he gradually withdrew more and more as the years went by. He had a job and lived alone. It came to a time when he would walk everywhere because he got to a point when he just didn’t like to drive anymore. He would walk to the house of his sister’s family on Sundays to watch football or sports. If it was too late or the weather was bad she would give him a ride home. But he would never want to be a bother to anyone.

One day the mother got very sick and was living with one of the sisters. When they took the mother to the hospital the doctor informed them that everyone of interest should be notified because they weren’t sure she would make it very long. She called his work and went to his house. His work said he had quit and there was actually someone else living in the house where he had been living. Just out of the clear blue he up and left. Not letting anyone know he was leaving or where he was going. His sisters searched everywhere for him. The sisters found out that he was living in a motel in Las Vegas at one point. By the time they got there he had left. They have been searching for him ever since.

I am only including the parts about myself in this story because it is in contrast to John’s story and I consider myself one of the few very lucky ones. I was a baker and I was one of the lucky few they did not require to serve time in Viet Nam. Don’t get me wrong, bakers went over to the war too. It’s just that I served my one year, of what was considered “overseas” duty, in Alaska at an isolated remote radar site on the Bering Sea. I had been stationed prior to this at an air base in Louisiana. Both of the sergeants that trained me and three of the airmen I had trained all were assigned to a tour in Viet Nam. I lost contact with them and never found out what happened to any of them. I know that when my time was up I received my discharge while in Alaska. They were cutting back on the military. I still had six months left of my four year responsibility. They gave me a choice to either re-enlist or accept an early out. Since I already had a wife and two baby girls, I accepted the early out.

I’m getting off track again. What I am trying to point out is the way our soldiers were treated then. I didn’t have any nightmares or wake up in cold sweats or have to re-live some of the horrible memories in the middle of the day that a lot of our returning soldiers brought home with them. I do know that when someone asked if I had been in the war and I would proudly reply yes, I could feel the snub and see the nose go up in the air. No matter what the soldiers did over there, there were a lot of, actually too many, people that would never consider those soldiers as heroes. In my mind, they were all heroes. Really, those soldiers didn’t expect to be treated like heroes, they could have, and should have, at least received some respect upon returning home to the country and the people they fought for.

I feel that a lot of that was due to the protests and riots here at home causing the lack of acceptance and respect of those soldiers. And we are seeing that these days too. Although today, people are accepting and supporting our soldiers in a completely different manner. Don’t get me wrong, I support our troops 100%. It’s just the treatment they get after they serve their time that is what I am complaining about. Especially the treatment they received during and after the Viet Nam era. When someone finds out now that I am a Veteran, they actually thank me for the time I gave for “our” country. That’s a lot more than I ever received back then. Why couldn’t they have been that way back then?

I guess maybe I have rambled enough. It’s just that even today, people that I have talked to just don’t recall how hard it was on the vets back then unless they themselves were vets. If you took the time to read this, thank you and please comment below.

Greg

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Comments 35 comments

Pollyannalana profile image

Pollyannalana 5 years ago from US

I have never understood how a young boy can be turned into a murderer. That war killed what, about 50 or 60 thousand, and for what? I think they were either profiting somehow or killing off boys, maybe to make room for illegals. I have been a complete idiot about so many things until just a few years ago but I always knew that war was wrong by Hamburger Hill and I have a poem somewhere about the sweetest boy you could know, blown up in a land mine, God is going to hold someone responsible for that and I know it. My husband and all school guys his age got that paper on their nineteenth birthday. Who is a man at nineteen? It was a war for nothing, you know we could have won that war, we could win any war if we wanted to and it wouldn't take thousands of deaths of ours to do it. I hope your friend is fine but he could be like many others just another homeless who has forgotten even who he is.

Polly


gregas profile image

gregas 5 years ago from Corona, California. Author

Hi Polly, Thank you for the finr comment. It's sad about the boys today too, because they go so young. But they have the choice to join. Theboys back then didn't have a choice and there were so many that were really unable to cope with all of the attricities. I didn't have to go to Viet Nam, but I don't think I would be the same person I am today if I would have been there, if I would be here at all. I know what you mean too, I have found in the past few years just how ignorant I have been for so many years and really how much interesting stuff I am just now learning.Thank you. Greg


Pollyannalana profile image

Pollyannalana 5 years ago from US

Maybe it has always been that way I don't know but many go to stay out of jail, maybe just a misdemeaner or because they have no job or nowhere to live. The more I learn the more disgraced I feel to be a part of a country I thought was so grand all my life and to keep uncovering secrets so horrible of how bad so many have been treated and then I found out first hand with my own mother that I won't even go into since I am just now getting somewhat over it. Ok maybe we could be in worse places but somehow that just doesn't make me feel any better. Sorry...its just been a get down day.


izettl profile image

izettl 5 years ago from The Great Northwest

great hub and written from the heart I can tell. You were certainly one of the lucky ones. The wars have messed up many. My dad was in college and was pressured by his dad to go enlist during Vietnam. I didn't even know he went until I was in my 20's- he never talked about it. I can't imagine people being so young and able to endure some tragic things.We're starting to see some bad effects now with the current war and the guys coming back from overseas.


CMerritt profile image

CMerritt 5 years ago from Pendleton, Indiana

Greg, first of all, that YOU for serving. I agree that our military men and women, even to this day are STILL underappreciated. Especially during the Vietnam war. What a screwed up time it was....the protesting and such.

A soldier is a hero in my mind, just for swearing to defend this country...let alone the autrocities that many have to face and endure.

Thanks for sharing this hub.

:)


gregas profile image

gregas 5 years ago from Corona, California. Author

Hi CMerritt, Thank you for the comment. And yes, that was a screwed up time. As for me serving in our countries military, that was my pleasure. Greg


Lucky Cats profile image

Lucky Cats 5 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

Gregas, this really hits my heart because I did lose some good friends over in Viet Nam. Never to see them again and, as you have so very well written here, those lucky enough to have survived Viet Nam came home to some pretty hateful words, images and attitudes. I sure hope his family finds John Kender...he obviously needs to be surrounded by love and understanding and, most of all...acceptance! I am going to share you with VietNamVet68 who also experienced that war and has written some very compelling hubs...I hope this is ok! Bless you and, keep on writing your wonderful words...very informational, very inspirational and compelling. Kathy


gregas profile image

gregas 5 years ago from Corona, California. Author

Hi Kathy, Thank you for the comment. You are more than welcome to share my hubs with anyone you would like. I have read some of VietNamVet68's hubs, and yes he does have some good ones. Again, thank you. Greg


vietnamvet68 profile image

vietnamvet68 5 years ago from New York State

Very good hub Greg, I to remember being treated like crap when I came home, walking down the street in town with my uniform on being spat at and called baby killer, things like that hurt and sticks in your mind. But like you say it is better today when people find out that you are a veteran and tell you thanks for your service.Our Government can't wait to use us but when they are finished they tend to sweep us under the table even today there are so many homeless veterans. Great wtrite,

God Bless


gregas profile image

gregas 5 years ago from Corona, California. Author

Hi VN Vet, Thank you for the comment and visiting. I just don't really feel people ever grasped what it was really like over there and what those soldiers went through. They see it in the movies and then tell themselves, "That's a movie, it was never like that." And they pass that kind of thinking on down to their kids. If they read the hub published by Nick that I have listed above, and click on the source at the bottom, they could get a completely different perspective on that war. Greg


Cyndi10 profile image

Cyndi10 4 years ago from Georgia

Gregras, This made me cry. I hope that your friend has been located by now. It was so sad that the Vets from Vietnam were treated the way they were, especially since so many were drafted. War is so vicious and not to have support for giving your innocence and your life is deplorable and almost unforgivable. The way the Vets were treated will always be a scar in our history. Thank you for having endured.


gregas profile image

gregas 4 years ago from Corona, California. Author

Hi Cyndi, Thank you for the visit and the comment. Unfortunately, John has NOT been located. I found one place in New Mexico, last month, where he had been, but he has since moved. I would really like to find him for his mother's sake. She doesn't have much longer and I would like her to at least know he is still alive, if he is. Greg


The Stages Of ME profile image

The Stages Of ME 4 years ago

I worked at a VA for a few years. I can not begin to tell you how that time changed my life. I have such a respect for all of our veterans. As a Rehabilitation therapist I heard their stories ,young and old. I wept with them, encouraged them and learned so much from all of them. Working there with them was like a daily history lesson. It made it so very real to me. I will always respect those who served and hope for John to be found. I wish people could thank him and hug him and lift him up. If he spent one minute serving we owe him. Wonderful Hub


gregas profile image

gregas 4 years ago from Corona, California. Author

Hi Stages, Thank you for the visit and the comment. No, John has not been located yet and his mother is getting worse. Greg


Curiad profile image

Curiad 4 years ago from Lake Charles, LA.

This is a superb article Gregas, I was in the USAF but at the end of Nam (73 or so) and therefore missed the worst of it all. However I do know what it is like to be a vet and basically ignored by the Govt, VA etc.

High five on this work.


gregas profile image

gregas 4 years ago from Corona, California. Author

Hi Curiad, Thank you for the visit, follow and comment. Yes, us vets did go through times all because we were blamed for the war at the time instead of the government.

Greg


Sunnie Day 4 years ago

Hello Gregas, The military was my life growing up watching my father go to Vietnam two tours not knowing if I would see him again, my own enlistment, My husband and brother to Desert Storm, now my son inlaw to Afganistan and two tours to Iraq.. and possibly my son to go there as well. It is part of being in the military. Sadly the draft did not give many a choice and we still are asking today why did so many have to lose their lives and come back to a country who spit in their faces. It makes me sick to my stomach at the thought. Let someone spit in my sons face after he has been serving his country for three tours, separated from his family, giving all he has...I salute our soldiers past and present no matter what stupid war that dictated their presence..right or wrong..they deserve our utmost respect and love...Thank you for a great hub.

Sunnie


gregas profile image

gregas 4 years ago from Corona, California. Author

Hi Sunnie, Thank you. I take it from your comment that you yourself was also in the military.??? I want to thank you and your family for the freedoms that we still have. FYI, I still haven't located John. If anyone has any ideas how I can find him, I would appreciate the suggestions. Greg


savvydating profile image

savvydating 4 years ago

Hi Gregas, It pains me to think of the disrespect that was shown our veterans during the aftermath of the Vietnam war. All those protesters spitting on veterans - it was shameful, to say the least.

However, I hope that the draft is not imposed again. There are many young men who are not cut out for war. It is best left to those who want to be soldiers - and there are many. I wish to thank you for your service to our country, and I sincerely hope that your friend is found. Thank you, also, for following my posts. I appreciate it.


gregas profile image

gregas 4 years ago from Corona, California. Author

Hi Savvy, Thank you. To date, John has not been found. Greg


jandee profile image

jandee 4 years ago from Liverpool.U.K

Hello Gregas,

what a sad tale. I have friend whose son left the u.k and went to L.A many years ago and no trace of him with many searches all in vain,

I suppose it has been done for John ! Salvation Army -missing persons-has to by requested by family member,

good luck from jandee


gregas profile image

gregas 4 years ago from Corona, California. Author

Hi Jandee, Thank you. We haven's checked with the Salvation Army. Thank you for the suggestion. I have checked the military sites and as much as I can in veteran hospital records. Greg


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 4 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

Hi Greg. This is a wonderful hub that expresses the sadness of the way our Vietnam Vets were treated. Our country should be ashamed of the way the Vets were treated and it is long past time that something should be done about it. Thank you for writing this hub.

I do hope and pray you find John. There must be some information somewhere that would provide a lead to him. I wish I had some information, some places that might help you. I will look into it for you.

Blessings to you.


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 4 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

Greg, have you tried 'Lost and Found - Vietnam Vets' at www.vietvet.org


gregas profile image

gregas 4 years ago from Corona, California. Author

Hi Phyllis, Thank you. Up to this time he has not been located The place I know of where he lived was in Albuquerque, NM. I really do thank you for the heads up on the vietvet.org site. I just posted on there and linked my hub to it just in case it might help. Again, thank you. Greg


old albion profile image

old albion 4 years ago from Lancashire. England.

Hi gregas. A sad tale indeed, can I echo the words of jandee. The salvation army might just be the place for John's family to go. As a Brit, I am detatched from the reasons the vets were treated so badly on their return.

I would be interested to know.

Best Wishes. marked up.


gregas profile image

gregas 4 years ago from Corona, California. Author

Hi Albion, Thank you. We were SENT, the majority deafted, to go over there and fight, then, with all of the protesters here gettingeveryone riled, the troops were the ones beign blamed for the war and called, among other things, baby killers. Because of the attrocities and the availability, a lot of our troops came back addicts, so that made them bad. That's just touchng on why they were treated so bad. As for the Salvation Army, I believe that was one of the first places the family went, even before I started my search. We have found a couple of places where he HAD been. But as the old saying goes, "a day late and a dollar short". Greg


old albion profile image

old albion 4 years ago from Lancashire. England.

Hi Greg. I have left a comment and decided to follow nick. I have looked at the website www.vietvet.org it certainly shows the pain that 'nam' inflicted on society. Thanks for your information.

Graham.


gregas profile image

gregas 4 years ago from Corona, California. Author

Hi Albion, Thank you for your concern. And yes, that "damn nam" did cause a lot of pain on our society, a lot more than I believe people even realize. Greg


nick071438 profile image

nick071438 4 years ago from City of Catbalogan, W, Samar, Philippines

I still hope US Air Force Vietnam veteran John Keith Kender of Durango, Colorado, US is very much alive. Having joined the air force at age 18 in 1964, he must be 66 years old by now. Please let's help find him. His sisters, especially his mother has missed him so much being the only male in the family. I am calling the help of fellow hubbers, police, registrar of lost-and-found persons, recorders of births and death, recorders of cemeteries, etc. of Florida, Las Vegas, New Mexico and other possible places where Kender could have gone astray.

His fellow air force veteran and friend Gregas also of Durango, Colorado, who is the lead of this search and to whom whereabouts about Kender shall be relayed, testified that the horrors and atrocities of the Vietnam war changed Kender's personality from a caring and loving brother to that of a recluse who easily flare up and get angry. A MyLot associate has informed that some war vets up to now are afraid to stay in confined places, hate loud voices such as sirens, etc.

I hope we don't get tired of the Vietnam's exploit. I still have one to share:

http://titanickloveyourenemies.blogspot.com/


old albion profile image

old albion 4 years ago from Lancashire. England.

Hi Greg. Is there any news on John?

Graham.


gregas profile image

gregas 4 years ago from Corona, California. Author

Hi Nick, Thank you for all of the support. I have come close to finding John, and thought I did in New Mexico, but I am limited on my resources and funds. Another retired AF seargent also found John's last known location to have been in New Mexico. It seems that he just vanished off the face of the Earth. His mother is still alive and still would like to at least know about her son before her time is up. Greg


gregas profile image

gregas 4 years ago from Corona, California. Author

Hi Graham, thank you for the concern, but no, I still haven't been able to locate John yet. Greg


Corey Hansen 4 years ago

Hi, Greg. My name is Corey, and I just read your story about yourself and your Friend, John. I want you and your fellow Vietnam Vets to know I appreciate your Service to your Country, the United Sates of America. Even though I'm not an American, I still want you to know that your Service is not going unappreciated, in my oppinion. I'm a Canadian, but I do have ties to the USA. I've got 3 Cousins who are Americans. As for the way you Vietnam Vets were treated when you came home, I'm very very sorry to hear that you were treated with such disrespect and unkind words by the Protesters. I have respect all of the Vietnam Vets, and that includes you and your Friend John. I want to say "Thank you for your Service and Welcome Home". I hope God will give all of you Vets peace some day, I'll say a little pray for you and other Vietnam Vets. I'm writing this from the bottom of my heart, because I really appreciate what you did. Going over to 'nam took a lot of guts, I would do the same for my Country, Canada. I hope you will read this accept this Heart felt Thank you and Welcome Home from a Canadian. Thank you and Welcome Home again. May God Bless you and give you peace and I hope you find your Friend John. Sincerely, Corey Hansen from Canada.


gregas profile image

gregas 4 years ago from Corona, California. Author

Hi Corey. I'm not sure where you are visiting from, but thank you for the visit, comment and concern. Thank you for your prayers and I do accept your thank you, and I am sure all Vets do also. FYI, I still have not located John, and his mother is still doing OK. I feel in my heart that she is waiting until she knows her son is OK. Greg

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