Vietnam: Welcome Home

Samuel Sours, a representative of the Vietnam Veterans of America who served in Vietnam for 27 months and moved up the ranks from supply clerk to helicopter crew chief, recalls his experiences.


Morgan: In 2000 Samuel Sours was the Vietnam Veterans of America service representative for Iowa. While serving in Vietnam for 27 months, he moved up the ranks from supply clerk to door gunner to helicopter crew chief. Thirty years later he expressed strong feelings about that war.

Sours: The biggest problem with it is the television coverage. They wanted to show… some of them wanted to show the bad side of the war. That's what they were there for. They were there to show the bad side, the bad side of what our American boys were doing. They didn't bother showing the village after the North Vietnamese or VC went through and did what they did.

Morgan: It's often said if you haven't been in the war, you have no business passing judgment on the warriors. United States soldiers were plunged overnight into a world of sniper fire, ambushes and confusion. It was hard to know if a person was your enemy or ally.

Sours: Mostly it was we existed from day to day. We lived hard.

Morgan: In other wars, the United States was considered the good guys with a clear but difficult task to beat the bad guys, saving the world from communism. But the Vietnam War was different. We knew little about the country or its people and got caught in the middle of a guerrilla war, leaving soldiers paranoid and their commanders frustrated. America was in turmoil. People distrusted the government. Military leaders were angry with politics for forcing them to fight a limited war, and many turned against the soldiers when they returned home.

Sours: A Vietnam veteran meets another veteran, we shake hands. We hug, some of us. And we say, “Welcome home.” That's something we didn't get when we came home. That's a sore spot with myself and a lot of other people. I was personally spit on when I got off the plane. Protesters were across the fence and they were spitting through the fence, throwing stuff at us when we came back. It's the only time that soldiers that went to do what our country asked them to do, we were treated like…we were called baby killers, murderers... Anything but Americans.

Morgan: It has been three decades since the last of U.S. combat troops left Vietnam, and our country is still coping with the damages inflicted by the war. Nearly 2,000 American POWs still remain unaccounted for from that war. And despite the mixed emotions about Vietnam, the fact remains that 58,000 Americans lost their lives.

Living in Iowa

Iowa PBS, 2007


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