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Vietnam Army Vets Visit Special Forces Soldiers
by U.S. Army Spc. L'Erin Wynn
February 14, 2018

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Soldiers from the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) welcomed Vietnam veterans of Company Echo, 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division (RECONNAISSANCE), and their families on September 26, 2017, for a tour of the 7th SFG(A) compound in order to reinforce individual Soldier and force readiness.

September 26, 2017 - Vietnam veterans of Company Echo, 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division (RECONNAISSANCE) tour modern weapons systems and visit with Special Forces Soldiers during a welcome of the vets and their families to the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) compound. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Brian Ragin)
September 26, 2017 - Vietnam veterans of Company Echo, 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division (RECONNAISSANCE) tour modern weapons systems and visit with Special Forces Soldiers during a welcome of the vets and their families to the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) compound. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Brian Ragin)

In an effort to show the evolution of support over generations of service members, Col. Patrick Colloton, 7th SFG(A) commander, hosted the veterans for a visit and introduced them to present-day Special Forces Soldiers.

Colloton described the visit as intuitively the right thing to do. The aim was to bring the Vietnam vets to the compound and show them what it’s like to serve in the Army today and reinforcing individual Soldier and force readiness.

“Frankly, this is a good opportunity for our Soldiers to talk to some of the vets to see how it was during their time as well as get a little perspective on how it may have been to be in the Army, and at war back in the 60’s and 70’s. And vice versa.”

Soldier and force readiness ensures members assigned to 7th SFG(A) maintain the highest possible readiness posture for field rotations, deployment, and contingency responses.

When the past was brought to meet and greet the present, the vets and the Soldiers agreed that readiness of force has remained constant. However, much had changed for service members in the way of technology and medical care in the small span of time since the Vietnam War.

“The medical care they get right on the field now is much more than we had. From the time they get picked up all the way back to the hospital – they are getting a lot better than what was available to us,” said Fayette, Ala. native, retired Army Sgt. Roger Aaron a squad leader for Co. Echo, 2/5th Cav., 1st Cav. Div. “In my time if you lost a leg you went one-legged.”

With today’s technological advances, a Soldier can suffer what may have once been a fatal wound during the Vietnam War and recover fully to return to active duty. A fact that Col. Colloton can attest to having survived two combat-related injuries and returning to duty.

Colloton believes that this and other successes are due to those who came before us going without. Although the Soldiers’ progress is partly due to the evolution of Soldier care and readiness programs, the will to continue on serving is all his own, said Colloton.

“We talk about differences in generation and every generation produces the quality of individuals who are willing to stand up, serve, and defend [our great] nation,” said Colloton. “They don’t question where they are going, they just go - that commonality has spanned ages of service members.”

Sopchoppy, Fla. native and retired Army Maj. Leigh Fairbank, company commander, Co. Echo, 2/5th Cav., 1st Cav. Div., said that the caliber of people is what has always stayed the same.  “The only reason I stayed in the Army was because of my tour with Special Forces in Vietnam. You’re dealing with professionals who know their job and know how to work as a team,” said Fairbank.

“What is important is to remember that service members always share a bond despite the fact that there may be a generational difference,” said Colloton. “Our wars are modern-day wars, but our history goes back to Vietnam and beyond. There’s certainly a thread there.”

“They are veterans just like we will be once we [complete] service and that is a part of our lives as service members in this country -- if we do it right,” said Colloton. “War is war and service is service, but it’s the conditions that make the experience different.”

Having visited with the veterans of yesteryear and learning about their experiences to finding that common thread aimed to teach that no matter the war or the era, Soldier readiness is a value that will be passed from generation to generation.

By U.S. Army Spc. L'Erin Wynn
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2018

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