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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Reichley: MAC-V had ties to scribe and the post

  • My, how wars and battles and anniversaries are rolling around to be commemorated. Wednesday's column was about an anniversary of sorts of the Mexican Expedition of 1916.
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  • My, how wars and battles and anniversaries are rolling around to be commemorated. Wednesday's column was about an anniversary of sorts of the Mexican Expedition of 1916.
    Fast forward 46 years, when no one named in Wednesday's column was still alive, and we are at another anniversary of sorts.
    On March 15, 1962, while this scribe was still an ROTC cadet at Auburn University, the U.S. Army established the Military Assistance Command Vietnam, with the acronym MAC-V. There had been a small group of U.S. soldiers in Vietnam since the end of WW II, but by 1962 forces from north of the DMZ, a country named North Vietnam, were making in-roads into its southern neighbor, South Vietnam, too fast for America's liking.
    When more and more troops are sent to a country or an area, a headquarters to command them must be in place. MAC-V was that headquarters.
    When John Kennedy became president in 1960 there were only some 900 Americans in South Vietnam. Two years later the number was 3,205 and growing daily, with no end in sight.
    In MAC-V's 12-year existence there were only four commanders. The first was Gen. Paul D. Harkins, followed by Gen. William Westmoreland, Gen. Creighton Abrams, and Gen. Fred Weyand. The last three became a future chief of staff of the Army and at least two are in the Fort Leavenworth Hall of Fame.
    MAC-V's mission was to provide advisors to the South Vietnamese army, or ARVN. At its peak number just before U.S. withdrawal and South Vietnam's fall there were 9,430 soldiers assigned to MAC-V. In 1968, 378 were killed, 1,393 wounded, and four were awarded the Medal of Honor.
    For 16 years those patriotic librarians across the river, part of the Mid-Continent Public Library, have hosted an all-day Veterans Salute at one of the 30 libraries in the system. Last year, on the 50th anniversary of the establishment of MAC-V, Vietnam was the theme.
    Of more than 50 tables filled with historical artifacts inside the library, many provided by members of the Kansas City Military Collectors Club, several contained artifacts from the Vietnam War.
    Outside the library vintage military vehicles were on display for the public to see and ask about, including a Huey helicopter that was a veteran of Vietnam. Sadly, none of the three area residents who received the Medal of Honor were present, but plenty of other "Viet vets" from all services were on hand to mix and mingle with attendees.
    I'm told that the reading public doesn't plan too far ahead, and the memory span is short. In spite of those probably provable facts, I'm giving readers a head's up about the theme of the 2013 Veterans Salute, which will again be at the Smithville Library.
    Sixty years ago a truce was signed that ended the shooting in the Korean War. Ergo, the Korean Armistice of 1953 will be the theme in Smithville on Oct. 19. Now you can race to the calendar and mark it for your most far off in the future thing to go to this fall.
    Page 2 of 2 - There will be much more about events in Smithville closer to the time. Now back to Vietnam, this column's subject.
    My how time flies. The two Vietnams became one again, just Vietnam. Technically it calls itself the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, and the official almanac name is Cong Hoa Xa Hoi Chu Nghia Viet Nam. Try saying that fast three times.
    Time flies even faster: For the first time since the class of 1974 there is a student from Vietnam, Maj. Cuong Nguyen,in the CGSC class. I think he likes it here so far.
    John Reichley is a retired Army officer and retired Department of the Army civilian employee.
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