Veterans Returning to Old Battlefields

Stephen F. Dennstedt

I recently came across this video on YouTube. It struck me as poignant because it was so similar to my experience. I served in Vietnam as a young Marine Corps Sergeant from January 1967 through February 1968. I returned with my son Shawn in 2004 to face my demons. It proved to be cathartic.

I again traveled through Vietnam in 2008, this time with my brother Joel. I think our trip foreshadowed our current world adventure—we’ve been on the road since early 2012 with just our rucksacks and my camera gear. War changes you—I arrived in Vietnam as a naive 19-year old and returned as an old man of 20.

My war is rapidly fading into history as new wars have taken its place. We’ve learned nothing—we’re still sending our best and brightest to be slaughtered on foreign soil. Not every veteran feels and thinks the way I do but large numbers of us do. I am cynical, jaded, and distrustful when it comes to our government and our politicians. I am also angry. Ten of my comrades never made it home—and for what? Over 58,000 Americans died in Vietnam and we gained nothing. NOTHING.

13 responses to “Veterans Returning to Old Battlefields

  1. I when to Vietnam as a young 20 year old in July 1967 and returned home in June 1968 as a bitter 21 year old. I also returned to Vietnam in 2015 (48 years later), this was to as I said kill my ghost. When I returned from Vietnam the only thing I felt was hate for the Vietnamese, when I return in2015ball of that hate was gone. Now I would like to return again.

  2. Oh, well,dear Steve! You are so right. Wars solove nothing, especially modern ones. History teaches us that…we have learned nothing. Cheers! What route are you taking now? Where are you heading for?
    Have a nice unexpected journey!
    Best wishes,

    • We still have a couple of months left in North Macedonia and then we’ll head to Serbia and Croatia. Loving North Macedonia so far … friendly, beautiful and inexpensive. 🙂

  3. I am not from USA but I’m also a discarded military vet now doing a menial temp job suited to someone 40 years my junior. After 11 strokes, heart attack, unstable angina and diabetes – all acquired during military duty – I feel your pain. It is frustrating to see how affordable human lives are to politicians.

  4. I am so sad to read about your brother. He and I were in Vietnam at the same time and on the same base. He was a Marine and I was in the Army. Please tell him from Sempi Fi from an Army brother.

    • Thank you so much for your words. I will certainly pass along your message. As we age and our clearest memories go back farther, Steve often goes back to those days. He seems to get his greatest satisfaction as a man from recalling his status as a Marine. Although he later acquired a much greater perspective on the war itself, I know his time in Vietnam is something which makes him proud. In 2004 he revisited the country with his son, and in 2008 he and I spent a few weeks there. I think it was good for him. And, just like they claim, once a Marine, always a Marine.

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