On Tuesday, March 29, 2022, communities around the U.S. will pay tribute to Vietnam veterans and their families on National Vietnam War Veterans Day.
U.S. involvement in Vietnam started slowly with an initial deployment of advisers in the early 1950s, grew incrementally through the early 1960s and expanded with the deployment of full combat units in July 1965. The last U.S. personnel were evacuated from Vietnam in April 1975.
Approximately 9 million Americans served during the Vietnam era (Nov. 1, 1955, to May 15, 1975). More than 6 million are still alive.
The Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act of 2017 established March 29 as the day to pause and commemorate, remember, recognize and honor Vietnam Veterans, former Prisoners of War, those listed as Missing in Action and their families.
March 29 was chosen for several reasons. It was on this date 49 years ago that the last combat troops departed Vietnam. It was also on this day, nearly half a century ago, that Hanoi freed the remaining prisoners of war the Republic of Vietnam was willing to acknowledge.https://39238b20c00c2e3c88c8778205f8a4e8.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
As part of the national observance, the Vietnam War Commemoration is interviewing Vietnam Veterans and their families and archiving these oral history interviews on the commemoration website and via the Library of Congress Veterans History Project. To learn more about this program visit www.vietnamwar50th.com or visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/VietnamWar50th.
Our previous Vietnam veteran guests:
Medal of Honor Citation:
While on a flight over North Vietnam, Capt. Sijan ejected from his disabled aircraft and successfully evaded capture for more than six weeks. During this time, he was seriously injured and suffered from shock and extreme weight loss due to lack of food. After being captured by North Vietnamese soldiers, Capt. Sijan was taken to a holding point for subsequent transfer to a prisoner-of-war camp. In his emaciated and crippled condition, he overpowered one of his guards and crawled into the jungle, only to be recaptured after several hours. He was then transferred to another prison camp where he was kept in solitary confinement and interrogated at length. During interrogation, he was severely tortured; however, he did not divulge any information to his captors. Capt. Sijan lapsed into delirium and was placed in the care of another prisoner. During his intermittent periods of consciousness until his death, he never complained of his physical condition and, on several occasions, spoke of future escape attempts. Capt. Sijan's extraordinary heroism and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty at the cost of his life are in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Air Force and reflect great credit upon himself and the U.S. Armed Forces.
From Into the Mouth of the Cat: The Story of Lance Sijan, Hero of Vietnam:
On the night of November 9, 1967, Sijan was ejected from his crippled fighter-bomber over the steep mountains of Laos. Although critically injured and virtually without supplies, he evaded capture in savage terrain for six weeks. Finally caught and placed in a holding camp, he overpowered his guards and escaped, only to be captured again. He resisted his interrogators to the end, and he died two weeks later in Hanoi. His courage was an inspiration to other American prisoners of war, and he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
From Leading With Honor:
Chapter 9 page 117-118
Before my deployment to Southeast Asia, Air Force 1st Lt Lance
Sijan and I had been dormmates and golfing buddies. At Son Tay camp,
I learned that his plane had gone down one day after mine. Badly
injured, he survived in the jungles of Laos for 46 days before being
captured. His remarkable story was not a surprise. Throughout our
training he was always keen about his professional development. Lance
stood out in survival school because he appeared to be the most highly
motivated learner, both in the classroom and on the mountain trek.
As Ron Mastin (1st Lt USAF) flashed Lance’s painful story across the
camp to our building, I put the pieces together. I remembered our first
winter of captivity, when my cellmates and I had listened helplessly
as someone in a cell down the hall deliriously cried out for help. I summoned
the officer in charge, and a few minutes later Fat in the Fire
opened the peephole in our door. “Please, will you help this man?”
I pleaded. With a serious look on his face he replied, “He has bad head
injury. Been in jungle too long. Has one foot in grave.” He slammed the
peephole shut and left.
Of course, in the isolated cells of Thunderbird, we had no way of
knowing who was dying. Two years later, I realized that we had been
audible witnesses to Lance’s last valiant struggle to survive. After the
war, we learned more details of Lance’s heroic actions to evade, escape,
and endure. His courageous efforts to resist, survive, escape, and return
with honor were so notable that he was awarded the Congressional
Medal of Honor (posthumously). One of the Air Force’s most prestigious
annual awards for leadership is named the Sijan Award.
Jennifer-Ruth Green continues to serve her fellow citizens in the United States Air Force Air Reserve Component and is now running to represent her fellow Hoosiers in Congress.
A battle-proven leader, a trailblazer, and a selfless servant, Jennifer-Ruth Green is a candidate for Indiana’s First Congressional District. Her continued experience of over twenty years of military service and her non-profit work throughout Northwest Indiana has prepared her to fight on behalf of the Region in Washington, D.C.
Born to Vivian and Paul R. Green Jr., Jennifer-Ruth “Romper” Green is the youngest of six children. At eighteen years old, Jennifer-Ruth followed in her father and grandfather’s footsteps and joined the United States Air Force.
After graduating from the USAF Academy in 2005, Jennifer-Ruth began her Air Force career in aviation and then transitioned to serve as a Special Agent with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. She deployed to Baghdad in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM where she served as a mission commander for counterintelligence activities. After her deployment, Jennifer-Ruth assumed the role of Deputy Chief for a nuclear command post.
After twelve years of full-time military service, Jennifer-Ruth transitioned to the US Air Force Reserve Component and chose to make Indiana home. Currently, she serves as the Chief Information Officer/Commander, 122d Communications Flight, Indiana Air National Guard. She is the first African-American, or Asian, woman selected to serve in this position in the history of the Fighter Wing.
Locally, Jennifer-Ruth serves her community in Northwest Indiana as an educator, and is the founder of MissionAero Pipeline, a non-profit reaching at-risk youth that seeks to transform lives, inspire STEM careers, and set students, as young as 5th grade through college, on a path of learning in the aerospace industry.
Jennifer-Ruth has been a trailblazer throughout her career. While attending the USAF Academy, Jennifer-Ruth was inspired by Lt. Col. Lee Archer, USAF, an original Tuskegee Airmen, and earned her pilot’s license. Now as a civilian, Jennifer-Ruth is a Certified Flight Instructor, commercial pilot, and one of fewer than 150 African-American professional female pilots in the US.
Jennifer-Ruth earned a B.S. in Asian Area Studies from the United States Air Force Academy, an M.Min. from Golden State Baptist College, and a B.S. in Aeronautics from Liberty University. She is currently enrolled in Air War College, studying strategic leadership across military operations, in joint, interagency, & multinational environments. She is a graduate of Air Command & Staff College. She is a regular speaker at aerospace/STEM events, loves traveling, and has visited all seven continents. Jennifer-Ruth lives in Crown Point, Indiana, and is a proud aunt to fifteen nieces and nephews.
Al Malmberg is a 50-year radio veteran who currently hosts The World of Aviation radio program.
(AM-1280-The Patriot) Other than this one hour a week show, Malmberg is enjoying retirement and doing lots of flying off a private strip in Colorado. He enjoys MCing The Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame Banquet each year in the Twin Cities.
Al was on the air for 17 years on WCCO radio in the Twin Cities. Concurrently, Malmberg was the regular fill-in host on "Overnight America" on the CBS Radio Network.
He also hosted the nationally syndicated Radio program, The Al Malmberg Show on The Business Radio Network.
Malmberg has been married to his wife, Kathy for 50-years. They have two sons and six grandchildren.
Oshkosh — It was a homecoming of sorts for Caroline Jensen on Thursday. When she arrived at EAA AirVenture, it was with a bang.
Actually, it was a low rumble followed by a deafening screech that prompted spectators to stick fingers in their ears as Jensen and her five teammates soared through the skies over Oshkosh to prepare for their performances this weekend.
The Air Force major, fighter pilot and Wisconsin native is the third woman and the first mother to fly in the Air Force Thunderbirds flight demonstration team.
"For me, this is a dream come true — who wouldn't want to perform at Oshkosh? It's kind of like playing at Carnegie Hall," Jensen, 37, said in an interview outside her No. 3 plane shortly after arriving at Wittman Regional Airport.
Born in New Richmond, Jensen grew up in River Falls and got hooked on flight when she saw a plane flying in the clouds in a TV movie at the age of 5. She watched the Thunderbirds perform in Eau Claire when she was 13, sparking her dreams of one day becoming an Air Force fighter pilot.
She didn't get her first flight until she was 15 — in a single-engine Cessna 172. Her second and third flights were to and from the Air Force Academy for swim camp and her fourth was to basic training after she had been accepted as a cadet.
The daughter of a Marine helicopter pilot in Vietnam, she graduated from the Air Force Academy with a bachelor's degree in English and spent 10 years on active duty and the past five years as a reservist. She's the first female reserve officer to fly with the Thunderbirds
Before joining the famous flight demonstration team, she was a T-38 instructor and assistant flight commander for Air Force Reserve Command's 340th Flying Training Group at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas.
She met her husband in glider school while they were at the Air Force Academy. He's now a commercial airline pilot and stays home in Las Vegas with their 5-year-old son while Jensen is on the road 220 days a year. With both parents pilots, it's no surprise their son has a propeller next to his bed, a Braniff Airlines poster on his wall and a bookcase in the shape of a plane tail.
When she finishes this season in the Thunderbirds, she'll head to Washington, D.C., to be a congressional liaison for the Air Force.
One reason there are so few female Thunderbird demonstration pilots is because only 7% of America's fighter pilot forces are female, Jensen said.
"To be on the team, you have to be at the right place in your career with the right set of skills, a family who's supportive and the desire to do it. So there's a lot of things that have to happen for any pilot who wants to be part of the team," she said.
She has spent quite a bit of time in the cockpit — it is, after all, her office — with 3,100 hours as an Air Force pilot, including 200 hours of combat in F-16s in Iraq.
Jensen was at Disneyland with her family, standing in Cinderella's castle, when her cellphone rang in 2012. On the line were all 12 officers from the Thunderbird team calling to congratulate her. Most pilots spend two years in the Thunderbirds but because the military's flight demonstration teams were grounded last year due to sequestration, the entire team stayed together for an additional year.
She flies the No. 3 plane on the right side of the diamond, sometimes as close as 18 inches from the lead plane at speeds up to 450 knots. It's not for the faint of heart. In some of the maneuvers, Thunderbird pilots feel as much as 9 Gs on their bodies and fly as low as 300 feet from the ground.
This weekend AirVenture air show spectators will see Jensen and the rest of the Thunderbirds perform loops and rolls as they zoom as low as 500 feet over the crowd in their white F-16s adorned with red and blue stars and stripes. Her favorite maneuver is when the four planes in the diamond split off from each other in four directions.
So is it nerve-wracking or comfortable flying in such tight formation?
"It's both," she said, adding that the pilots practice their show far away from each other and gradually move closer.
"It's all very controlled. I know exactly what (the lead pilot) is going to do, he knows exactly what we're going to do. There are commands we go through and we've literally done them hundreds of times," she said. "It's very deliberate, very rehearsed and very safe."
This is the first visit by the full Air Force Thunderbird flight demonstration team to EAA AirVenture and because the "aerobatic box" — the air space above the grounds — is bigger than for other air show performers, convention organizers are moving spectators 150 feet back from the normal flight line. Also, residents and businesses inside the aerobatic box must leave for a few hours while the team performs.