In Memory of Mel Valentine lost to Agent Orange in 2012.
Mel Valentine- US Army 101st/327th; Vietnam “67-“68
April 26, 1947- September 11, 2012
Below is something that my father wrote about his legacy before he ever knew he was ill. I wanted to share this with his Vietnam brothers as well as the children of other vets. God bless you all. Wendy Valentine
WHAT DO I WANT TO LEAVE AS MY LEGACY – MEL VALENTINE
I received this after my father’s passing. It was written before he knew of his illness. I wanted to share with those in this forum.
I had the pleasure of interviewing my uncle for my Graduate class on Aging Vietnam Vets- One of the Questions I asked-What do you want your legacy to be- I will not bore you with my paper-but here was his answer to me-
“What do I want to leave as my legacy?
That is a hard question. I would want people to know that regardless of the volume of historical data, that the soldiers who fought in Viet Nam died no less heroically than the veterans of other wars did. That even if the cause was some what nebulous from a political historical basis, Viet Nam was a line drawn in the sand by President Eisenhower and followed through by Kennedy and Johnson, culminating with Nixon. It in someway defined and hardened our resolve to stop what we thought politically, was further communist incursion and world dominance of a system which was diametrically opposed to our own. I would want this nation to realize that our deaths and our effort was not in vain. I would suggest that Viet Nam was not lost by the warriors that fought there, but was abandoned for political and social unrest reasons. I remain ashamed of those Americans who protested the war by attacking the men who fought there. I can understand that we were the easiest and most visible targets, yet it was wrong and it scarred a large number of returning veterans. I would want my legacy to also read, that under the same circumstances, having sworn the same oath, I would do it again. I want my family and peers to know that when called, I answered the call and did my service honorably. I had hoped, that the lessons learned in Viet Nam would be used to define how our future wars would be fought. Especially the lesson of committing our troops to causes which did not have the complete backing of the American populace. Iraq seems to be one of these types of commitments. Afghanistan on the other hand was and remains a legitimate target if in fact we are fighting a war on terror. Yet, the similarities to Viet Nam grow greater in comparison. We have an enemy that blends into the population, who utilizes booby traps, who escapes capture or death by crossing into another nation where we are not allowed to pursue, and an enemy who employs non-conventional guerilla type tactics. Our military is again hamstrung by political considerations. Our nation grows skeptical and increasingly tired of the ever mounting death and what seems to be an unwinnable situation. To our credit, we have not treated the warriors who are fighting in the Near East as pariahs, but as men and women who are performing their duties in a manner which is commendable and heroic. My greatest fear, is that we have by continued redeployments of our troops, damaged them psychologically even more so than by the wounds they have received from bullets and shrapnel. PTSD is a real concern and has to be addressed immediately. For the Viet Nam veteran, it was seen as a political football because it typically did not surface until years after the fact. We are seeing its emergence with our current troops in a time frame where we can assist and help those in need more expeditiously. Some of my legacy is in military awards which I will leave to my daughters, along with the flag I served under when it is draped across my coffin. My wife if she outlives me will receive the flag and retain the Jump Wings I earned as a young paratrooper at Fort Benning Georgia. My daughter Wendy will receive my Bronze Star for Meritorious Service. She has been a good example and an advocate for children with special needs. My daughter Melinda will get my Bronze Star for Valor. She was able to rise above the systematic bullying she had in school and excel academically and spiritually. Amanda will receive my Purple Heart and my Combat Infantry Badge. She was born with a tumor and was wounded 12 hours after her birth by extensive surgery. She also has had to face herself and overcome by hard work some serious disabilities. The last of my legacy would go to my grandchildren in some brief words. That Sherman was correct, “War is Hell.” I would not wish war on them or anyone else. Yet, if our nation, our freedom and our way of life is jeopardized I would expect them to serve our country with dignity and honor. ”
April 26, 1947-September 11, 2012 — with David Lee Hodge and Agent Orange Vietnam Veterans Memorial.