Vietnam Vets Say Comparisons With Iraq Are Unfair - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

04/08/04

Vietnam Vets Say Comparisons With Iraq Are Unfair

As the violence in Iraq continues and the casualty count climbs, there are increasing comparisons to the war in Vietnam.

Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy has called Iraq "President Bush's Vietnam". Democratic presidential candidate, John Kerry, has also drawn parallels between the two conflicts.

But is that a fair comparison?

WLOX News talked with Vietnam veterans to get their views.

The trio of veterans say they were expecting the Vietnam comparisons. But they don't agree with such statements. They say while there are a few similarities, there are also some defining differences.

"It's not Bush's Vietnam. It's not Bush's war. It's everybody's war," said Mickey Stanley, who flew helicopters in the Vietnam war.

Stanley and his two friends speak from the perspective of multiple tours of duty in Vietnam. Each of them doesn't care for the growing comparisons with Iraq.

"There's no comparison between Vietnam and Iraq. The numbers. The number of casualties and all. Although we are taking some serious casualties right now, it's in a local area that they're going into that we know is a stronghold," said Mike Teter.

Fellow veteran, Glenn Bremenkamp, says the troops are different.

"We're not using young draftees at 19 years old like we did in Vietnam and give them six months training going out there and say here's your enemy, fight. These guys and gals are trained for this. The only problem is, they weren't trained for a police action," he said.

As the number of Vietnam casualties escalated, the anti war sentiment increased as well. That's also true in Iraq.

"And when somebody dies, whether it be one or 500, half of them get up in arms screaming. But unfortunately, that's what happens in wars. People die. And nothing's going to change on that," said Stanley.

The vets say there's something else that won't change: Wars get wrapped up in politics.

"I think a lot of them are saying, hey we're in another quagmire just like Vietnam. Because we don't have an end goal in this thing. Yeah, we talk about an end goal, but we haven't found it yet," said Bremenkamp.

The veterans who know what it's like to put their lives on the line, say it's important to remember that any comments eventually impact the troops.

"You're taking away from the morale of these people. And believe me, morale is a big thing for these guys over there right now. They need all the support they can get here," said Teter.

By Steve Phillips

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