What is a Vietnam Vet

I have just recently discovered the Grit newsletter so I guess you can say I am kind of the “New Guy” I served 1 tour with Lima 3/1 never even thought of extending after being witness to some extendys getting wasted after coming back. In my opinion if I made it for one tour there was no way I was going to push my luck,considering the fact that there was really no good reason for us to be there.Thats not why I am writing. Over the years I have run into Vets wearing Vietnam Vet hats and other items claiming to be Nam vets but,when I approach them to find out where and when and who they served with some will tell me “Oh I didn’t actually go to Vietnam ” but,”I served during the war” Does that make him a Vietnam Vet? or the so called Vietnam Era Vet? With that said why does a person that did not leave the states during WW-2 considered a WW-2 Vet yet, if you served during any other period you are an “Era” vet. Sometimes I hesitate to ask someone about their service for fear of what they might say.One time I saw a guy with a 1st Mar. Div hat and was excited to speak with him. When I told I was with 1st Marines in 68 He just turned and walked away and said he was to busy to talk.I followed him and started asking him more questions he all he said was he was “Around Da Nang” “Who with!” I ask. no answer and he just kept walking away. I later saw him inside the store without the hat on he pretended like he did not see me but I just had to ask. “You are a fake aren’t you?” No answer. I just walked away and let it go. My anger management group therapy helped in that situation. A few years prior the Cops would have to be called. Thanks for letting me vent Marines Paul 0311 68-69

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71 comments


  • G Willard 0311, 8651,8511….

    “Retired” as an E-7 was in reference to ARMY! Not uncommon to see E-7 retirees in the Corps “back in the day”; Carlos “White Feather” Hathcock and our dining hall mgr. in our bachelor D.I. quarters at P.I. that was an E-5 after 15 years – yeah, he was tough, feared nothing, and was called by his first name by the C.G.


  • Cpl Don Harkness

    saw this late which does provide the many insights. I was in the Corps, 61-65. I summarize my time as “almost Cuba, almost Vietnam”. and like many, I simply identify myself as Marine, USMC, or the emblem by wearing my hats and shirts. Not vietnam era, or vietnam vet.Though technically I’m a Vietnam vet as I was awarded the ribbon/medal. My personal feeling is that the distinction is “feet on the ground”. I was part of the 9th MEB, 1st stage, which put together the 1st units to be ready to land if given the word/command. So I looked at it on a ship with a few thousand other Marines and sailors. I forget the exact criterion, but awarding the medal was determined by being in the TOC (theater of operations) for X contiguous days…I think it was 60. And we floated there cooking in the sun for quite awhile, eventually replaced by the next stage. I’d find it interesting to know the details on the formulation of the 9th MEB…but the gist of it is the high command sends out orders that basically say “Be ready ASAP..start NOW!. The result is Stage 1 which is quickly assembled by having the Navy scraping up how many buckets of bolts they can throw together, and populating them with as many Marines that can be quickly rounded up…move in and wait. Speed is of the essence. Then Stage 2 kicks in on it’s heels where you get in place the Marines, ships, sailors, MOS’s you really need and start replacing those in Stage 1 that are stand iins or most likely whose time is up. By that I mean when I shipped out the Marines were doing 1 year rotational of individuals replacement , rather than deploying Stateside units. When you’re year was up, it was up, unless you shipped over. I volunteered for the 9th MEB. That’s the way the game was played when Nam began to get serious. So again, I qualified for the medal, but just display Marine…for all the good reasons others have mentioned. And cut some slack for sailors…their “boots on the ground” is when they stick their ships and planes into hostile waters.


  • Reinhold Woykowski

    Thank you


  • Reinhold Woykowski

    Thank you


  • Nick

    Juan, A side note about the DD-214 Since there are so many forged DD-214s out there my local VFW no longer accepts it unless it is a Certified copy. Just thought I would throw this into the mix Nick


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