Vietnam Vets Perspective on Iraqi War One Year Later - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

3/18/04

Vietnam Vets Perspective on Iraqi War One Year Later

After six weeks of major conflict one year ago, U.S. and coalition forces have spent the last 10 months rebuilding an oppressed country. A dangerous and time consuming mission that is far from over.

U.S. Army Infantry Soldier James McCoy, Navy Corpsman Jerry Dickson and U.S. Army Engineer Bill Grimes. Three Vietnam Veterans who've closely watched the war in Iraq, remembering and comparing it to their days of fighting on the front lines in Vietnam.

"Myself and many Vets in this organization and other organizations felt that once we got in there that it would be impossible for us to let go and get out. We did in Vietnam we tried to rebuild it in a Democratic society and it didn't work," says McCoy.

U.S. and coalition forces are helping Iraqi citizens turn a dictatorship into a Democracy, and these veterans say unfortunately, the challenge of doing that is far from over.

"Americans have always been that way. Whenever the oppressed are beat down and mistreated, Americans always felt it was our duty to go make things right and that's what we're trying to do over there now," says McCoy.

Despite the controversy surrounding the Vietnam war and the war in Iraq, these veterans agree war was inevitable to put an end to terrorism.

"I definitely think we should be there because if we weren't there they would be here," says Grimes.

"We used to have a saying in Vietnam. You've never lived until you've almost died. That's war. You don't realize what you do have until you've almost died. Until you've seen your buddy to your right or your left killed in a spilt second, they're gone. Until you're hit or you don't have to be hit but you see this over and it puts your life in a whole different perspective," says Dickson.

These Vietnam Vets have had years to cope with their memories of war and through that they're grown to be more compassionate and say their appreciation for life has grown tremendously. The affect war has on a soldier, that's one thing these Veterans say doesn't change from war to war.

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