Mar 30, 2023

50 Years Since the Last American Combat Troops Left Vietnam Transcript

50 Years Since the Last American Combat Troops Left Vietnam Transcript
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The 50th anniversary of the last American combat troops leaving Vietnam. Read the transcript here.

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Speaker 1 (00:02):

The last thing before we go tonight, an important one. Vietnam War Veterans Day. Today marks 50 years since the last US troops left South Vietnam. The war was costly, divisive, and one of America’s longest foreign conflicts. Over 58,000 Americans died, and many of the soldiers who returned were never the same. Our dear friend Harry Smith has the story of something one veteran lost on the battlefield and its long journey home.

Speaker 2 (00:31):

There were few parades, little fanfare, just welcome home from family and friends for those who served in Vietnam.

Speaker 3 (00:39):

I was a rifle platoon commander, and then a company commander in the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine regiment. In the An Hoa basin.

Speaker 2 (00:47):

Last fall, former Senator Jim Webb led a group of Notre Dame students to that battlefield, that province where.

Speaker 3 (00:54):

More than 7,000 Marines had lost their lives, and they needed to understand how and what we were trying to do.

Speaker 2 (01:00):

While there, a local man appeared with a dog tag Professor Mike Dash bought it for $20. Name and rank, Larry Hughes, Corporal. Webb wondered.

Speaker 3 (01:11):

Whether we were able to find him or his family so that we could pay our respects to them.

Speaker 2 (01:18):

They did.

Speaker 4 (01:19):

I was like, this has got to be some kind of a scam or something. Obviously, it doesn’t sound real.

Speaker 2 (01:24):

Carl Hughes was wary. His Aunt Patricia broke down in tears.

Speaker 5 (01:28):

I just couldn’t believe it. I said, “Are you serious?”

Speaker 2 (01:31):

Corporal Larry Hughes was Carl’s dad, Patricia Hughes, his sister.

Speaker 5 (01:35):

It took me way back in time as a teenage girl, and my brother’s gone. We don’t know if he’s going to come home.

Speaker 2 (01:44):

Corporal Hughes did come home to Northern Florida, but passed away a couple years ago. Carl said his dad never spoke to him about Vietnam, yet.

Speaker 4 (01:53):

I joined the Marines as well, just like him. Wanted to follow in his footsteps.

Speaker 2 (01:57):

As did Patricia’s son.

Speaker 5 (01:59):

He served in Iraq. I was in with a Marine Corps parents because we said we will never let our sons be treated like they treated the Vietnam vets.

Speaker 2 (02:10):

Patricia told us her brother would change out of his uniform when he came home to avoid the stares and hateful words of some civilians. Jim Webb had the dog tag framed, along with Corporal Hughes military ribbons, and a ceremony was held to honor his service.

Speaker 5 (02:26):

But the recognition for the Vietnam vets, you couldn’t have asked for anything any better.

Speaker 2 (02:31):

Fulfilling the marine motto, Semper Fidelis, Semper Fi, always faithful. Harry Smith, NBC News, Land O’ Lakes, Florida.

Speaker 1 (02:42):

My dad, Frank Rule, who served in that era, called me this morning and asked me to acknowledge this day. And I’m grateful that we are because we are grateful today and every day for the service and sacrifice of our military and their families.

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