"Jumping Mustangs" Reunite On The Coast - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

"Jumping Mustangs" Reunite On The Coast

Veterans and their families gathered on the lawn at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial for a brief ceremony Saturday morning. They were there to honor the men who did not come home.

"We lost over 300 people, but far less casualties than most infantry battalions and we only had one man missing," said Ken Mertel, who was the first battalion commander. Three of those killed were Mississippi men whose names and faces now adorn the walls of the memorial. Sergeant Garrell Sutton served with Woxie Lyday.

"He was like all the soldiers that served," Lyday said. "We were there doing our jobs."

The "Jumping Mustangs" was an army infantry unit that ended up doing little jumping, and a lot of fighting.

"We fought on the ground, met the enemy hand to hand," Mertel said. "Our mission, I told my warriors, kill the enemy and we had another motto, bring all your men back."

"And there are thoughts that some you'd think would fade with age and sometimes they get stronger," Vietnam veteran David McCallum said. "I don't know if it's just you play it over in your mind or what, but it does, it does affect you in some ways."

And that's why Veterans say these gatherings are so important.

"Because being around men that served with you and understand what you have been going through since Vietnam," Lyday said. "See, only a Vietnam veteran understands and can talk to another Vietnam veteran."

"And you feel more secure and safe with veterans," McCallum said. "It's just like a security blanket."

Veterans say their pain comes not only from the what they saw in Vietnam, but also with the politics back home that accompanied the war.

"These guys didn't know any political issues," Vietnam veteran Roy Martin said. "They were soldiers, sailors, Marines. They were doing their job whatever it was."

The accomplishments and sacrifices of the "Jumping Mustangs" were honored in the recent film "We Were Soldiers."

By Amanda Jones

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