50 years after United States troops left Vietnam, local veterans reflect

50 years after United States troops left Vietnam, local veterans reflect
Bank Image

On March 29, 1973, two months after the signing of the Paris Peace Accords, the last United States combat troops left South Vietnam. 

To mark the occasion and honor Louisiana’s Vietnam veterans, the Vietnam War 50th Anniversary Commemoration will be held at 10 a.m. March 29 at the Raising Cane’s River Center. 

Kenneth Altazan, left, receives an award from Lt. Col. Lou Gulling, Commanding Officer. 

According to the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs, the state has 85,000 Vietnam-era veterans. Speaking to them more than 50 years after leaving Southeast Asia, their recollections of the conflict, and their emotions, remain vivid.

‘A scary situation’

Larry Minton was only 22 when he turned up in the A Shau Valley, along the Laotian border, in 1968. It didn’t take long for the realities of the conflict to hit home: On his first day in combat, he watched on in horror as a helicopter was shot down.

Vietnam pics 1.jpg

Like most American servicemen, 22-year-old Larry Minton, seen here, endured a hellish time during his year in Vietnam. “It was just a scary situation,” he recalled.

During his year in Vietnam, he came under constant attack from mortars, rockets and snipers. He saw gunbattles that lit up the forest at night and vividly recalled one particular back-and-forth skirmish that ended with a giant hole being blown in the side of a mountain. 

Later, a swap with the 101st Airborne Division saw him move to the wild Cambodian border — “real Indian country,” he said — where the threat of ambushes was ever-present.

It was a hard, dirty, tense existence. Because of a lack of water, Minton and his fellow soldiers bathed only when it rained. 

Long after leaving Vietnam, Minton developed heart trouble that was most likely due to exposure from the tactical herbicide Agent Orange. 

“It was pretty horrible,” he said. “It was just a scary situation for someone who wasn’t used to something like that. And I wasn’t the only one. We all felt that way.”

‘We had to do what Uncle Sam told us to do’

In October 1967, 23-year-old Vance Sutton arrived in Cam Ranh Bay as an Air Force sergeant. He ended up staying in the country for a year and a half.

The Advocate

This article from The Advocate, published March 25, 1973, shows some of the last American troops returning home from Vietnam. Though it refers to the conflict having ended, it would not officially finish for a further two years. 

Among Sutton’s most vivid memories were being hit hard during the Tet Offensive in 1968; watching a fuel dump explode; and seeing a heavily armed Douglas AC-47 Spooky heading over a hill as it dropped flares, fired red tracer bullets and let loose its powerful, Gatling-style machine guns.


About Mary Weyand 11096 Articles
Mary founded Scoop Tour with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research. With ample knowledge about the Automobile industry, she also contributes her knowledge for the Automobile section of the website.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.