Sunday, November 10, 2013

Back to Battlegrounds:

Some veterans seek peace by returning to places of war
Former U.S. Army infantryman Alex Munoz, who served in Iraq in 2007 and 2008, visits a religious shrine earlier this year in Lalish, a mountain valley in northern Iraq.

10 November 2013 - Traces of old battlefields seem forever wedged inside the minds of many combat veterans: friends killed, wounds sustained, deaths inflicted.

But scores of ex-service members are willingly returning to old combat sites, some seeking their own tranquility – some just hoping to savor peace after the dust has long settled.

From Germany to Vietnam to Iraq and other lands of past U.S. wars, American veterans like 96-year-old James “Maggie” Megellas have stepped back in time by heading back in person, rekindling harsh memories but re-connecting with – now – welcoming locals.

“I crossed the Waal River again where I recall one of my boats being sunk by an enemy shell. I lost half my men,” said Megellas, a retired officer in the 82nd Airborne Division, referencing his company’s famous, 1944 daylight traverse of the Dutch waterway while under German fire. He was invited by officials in the Netherlands to visit after publishing his 2003 book "All the Way to Berlin." read more>>>

Why US veterans are returning to Vietnam
Nearly 40 years after the war, American vets who live in Vietnam are working to foster reconciliation between the two countries, while other former US soldiers are traveling there to find 'closure.'

Veterans Greg Anderson (l.) and Bill Ervin on a hill in Vietnam, where they were overrun in 1969. Courtesy of Bill Ervin

November 10, 2013 - A photo of Greg Kleven, dated April 1967, shows him posing in front of a tin-roofed hooch, wearing an undershirt so stained it matches the sand beneath his feet. In his right hand, he is holding an M-16 rifle. His shaved head is cocked to the left and he's sticking out his tongue in a half smile.

The 18-year-old enlistee is three months into his tour of Vietnam in a Marine Corps Force Reconnaissance company, a special operations unit similar to the Navy SEALs. He looks brash and ready to take on any Viet Cong who cross his path.

"We had all of the difficult missions," Mr. Kleven recalls. "We blew up bridges and parachuted out of planes. Each patrol was like an individual war."

As we talk in his apartment overlooking the Nhieu Loc Canal in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, it's hard to find any trace of that brazen marine in Kleven today. Two decades after leaving Vietnam on a stretcher with a bullet wound to his back, Kleven returned to the country for good in 1991, making him, he says, the first American to live in Ho Chi Minh City after the war. read more>>>

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