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Vietnam Reenactments. Too Soon?


2ndiddogface
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2ndiddogface

Hey all, was wanting some input on the idea of Vietnam reenactments. These would be private tacticals much like current WWII ones.

 

My question is this: Is it too soon to be doing these types of events? Being a histroy teacher, and related to many Nam vets and people in our country at the time, would it be in "bad taste" to do such a thing? I know there are the people that think reenacting in general sends the wrong message, so I guess I am appealing to already reenactors. I know there are people who already do it in our country, it's just not so mainstream (is anyone interested in it?). What really suprises me is the popularity of it in other countries!

 

My desire to do it is this; I have been reenacting WWII for about 6 years. I got into WWII because there was no Nam reenacting to speak of. As already stated, I am a history teacher and this plays a big part for one of my areas of passion and that is the war in Vietnam. My wife's uncle was wounded there, my wife's great uncle was an advisor there, my wife's other uncle was a GB in I Corps and travels there regularly to take photos and journals, my dad enlisted in the AF because of it, my good friend's dad was in the 4th ID on a 5 man combat tracker team. As a kid, one of my favorite shows was Tour of Duty. My neighbor was a 101st vet. For as long as I can remember, I have always had a fascination with it.

 

Here's the bottom line;

Reenact the Vietnam war, or not to reenact? Is there interest in it, at least in So Cal? (I know there are weapon restrictions here that damper it, but it is still doable.) Is it taboo?

 

Let the debate begin!!!

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At the Iola (Wisconsi)outdoor Military Show there is a small reenactment done.They have a thatched hootch set up for the NVA/VC,with flag etc and there are a couple of guys who do the NVA/VC impression.THey have done it the last 4 or 5 years I have attended.Have a fairly good size group of US guys and last year there were some early 50s French Paras there too.Never heard any negitive comments about the battle or impressions.

 

RD

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Our WW2 group has a VV side group that sets up aside from us at larger display events. They don't do "re-enactments" as much as displays though. I know of a group in Oregon that has a firebase and does the blank shooting think, with VC/NVA as well.

Too soon? It's been almost 40 years now. Still, the VN vets can be far more random than the WW2 ones. I used to have a VN era uniform and impression I'd take to timeline events in the 90s. I got so many "wigged out vet" types either giving me a ration of it for daring to wear their stuff or they'd hang out all day long at a display (scaring everyone else off) and having me as their own person therapist. I would never do VN in public again, after those experiences. I rid myself of my VN stuff in 97 and haven't missed it a bit.

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2ndiddogface

Still, the VN vets can be far more random than the WW2 ones. I used to have a VN era uniform and impression I'd take to timeline events in the 90s. I got so many "wigged out vet" types either giving me a ration of it for daring to wear their stuff or they'd hang out all day long at a display (scaring everyone else off) and having me as their own person therapist. I would never do VN in public again, after those experiences.

 

I have heard of that base in Oregon. Is it real or just fantasy?

 

I don't really like doing too many public events in general, also afraid of the experiences you mentioned. I have done displays for my classes in the past and have done one public but it had a ton of people dressed in period clothes. It was more like a party then a history lesson. I just feel weird portraying people who were there in front of people who were there. I have gotten mixed feelings from current military especially. I remember telling a 3 tour vietnam vet about doing WWII and he thought it was great while a current Navy doctor overheard and was appauled that we "play war". He didn't understand that it's more of trying to preserve the memory and honor the sacrifice than "play war", at least for me anyway.

 

I know that war is a terrible, terrible thing and have no fantasies about it. For me, it's the history, honoring the sacrifice and preserving the memory.

 

Joe

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You needn't feel like you need to explain yourself as to why you want to do this. I feel this is the "big trap" that many 20th-century-themed re-enactors fall into. You want to do this because you want to do this. You don't owe an explanation to anyone, especially anyone here! :thumbsup:

I have heard of that base in Oregon. Is it real or just fantasy?

It's real, all right. I have never been there but know plenty of people who have. I searched google and found a few things on it right away. My understanding is that they haven't done much there recently and it's fallen into disrepair. But then again, that's thrid party talk and I have NO idea either way. Check out this link for some photos of it.

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I am writing this from a motel in San Pedro we where just attended the first days of Old Fort MacArthur Days. I saw several Vietnam reenactors, Gulf War and OIF reenactors and every other time period (including a squad of Roman Centurions).

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2ndiddogface

I am writing this from a motel in San Pedro we where just attended the first days of Old Fort MacArthur Days.

 

 

Shoot is that this weekend? Oh well! Fort Mac is a neat place. I was there for the Battle of Los Angeles event last spring. It was neat! P38 flying overhead, swing band, Don Wildman from Cities of the Underworld, dancing girls, lost of people in period clothes, doncing girls.

 

I have wanted to get down there and check out the Nam guys, haven't had the chance. Was wondering if you could get a contact for me and PM me? I know there are some guys in Nor Cal that did an event a year ago. Haven't heard much since.

 

THanks!!!

 

Joe

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YankeeDiv26

I don't think it's "too soon" as a general consensus, but that's really not going to be a black and white question to begin with. Some people want to forget the war, and some people want to remember it. I do (private) tacticals and a lot of displays for the public and veterans associations (like the VVA) and 99/100 times get a very positive response. I think for the veterans seeing people who care to remember them, hear what they have to say (I've heard dozens of stories they haven't told anybody but me), and being able to see people who genuinely care, respect, and appreciate them is very beneficial. A lot of vets have told me I'm one of the only people to treat them as they feel/felt they deserve. It's been 40 years, in 10-20 people will be saying it's "too late".

 

-Tim

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Too soon? I don't think so, in fact we are now right about the point where WW2 reenacting really began to grow and flourish. something about the 40 year mark.

 

As for events and Firebases, check out this website;

 

http://www.mooremilitaria.com

 

These guys are spread far and wide and are dedicated to the 25th ID, they have a big event in Mississippi every year.

 

As for the Vets, a little patience and understanding goes a long way. Some will hate you, some will love you and most will be curious as to why you would want to; they all are justified, so suck it up and deal.

 

If you want to find a period without veterans, start at WW1 and work your way back...and some people wonder why I also do Roman.

 

There is always the Funtime Malibu Barbie conventions-and they are a blast!

 

Rant Over, that is all,

 

Hey Barbie, can I have another cosmo, them is goood, thank you darling...

T-Bone

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I am writing this from a motel in San Pedro we where just attended the first days of Old Fort MacArthur Days. I saw several Vietnam reenactors, Gulf War and OIF reenactors and every other time period (including a squad of Roman Centurions).

OIF reenactors? Wow. I am suprised on that one actually. I knew it would happen eventually, but never thought it would be this quick.

Arch

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I knew people in Texas that were reenacting the Vietnam era 15 years ago.

 

That said, wearing Vietnam era uniforms in public back then could bring out a strong response. One of our locals in Dallas got taken to task at a gun / militaria show for wearing a set of Tiger Stripes. He was standing next to a PBR that was on display and ran into a group of about 5 Vietnam vets. They wanted to know if he was a vet or if he had a family member who had served. When he tried to explain himself, they just weren't buying the reenactor bit. Back then I think they thought they had found a "Stolen Valour" wanna-be pretend vet. After this experience, my friend never wore such an outfit to a show again. Meanwhile you had reenactors walking through the show in WWII Airborne and German Infantry uniforms all day long.

 

Fast forward to the present... the Vietnam Vets have now aged, and hopefully mellowed a little bit. Now if you have a 25 year old running around at a show wearing Jungle Fatigues its pretty obvious that he is not pretending to be the real thing.

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force scout

Great thread guys, I too am a current WW2 reenactor with a definate interest in doing Nam tacticals but no displays. Mostly I enjoy reenacting for the love of the history and the comradeship of fellow reenactors and I enjoy pitting myself against other reenactors. I want no viet vets angry with me for doing opposition forces (VC) but the guys who do US need opposition just like the WW2 Allies need the Axis forces. I have most of my field gear for the mainforce VC impression I intend to do and am looking forward to doing Vietcong for next year. I must say that finding information on VC units and their histories is very challenging at best and exasperating most of the time. I don't think it's too early to do VietNam but I WILL NOT do a VC impression at a public event to avoid offending any of our vets. My main problem here in Texas is finding guys to do NVA/VC with and if so, where?

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Our WW2 group has a VV side group that sets up aside from us at larger display events. They don't do "re-enactments" as much as displays though. I know of a group in Oregon that has a firebase and does the blank shooting think, with VC/NVA as well.

Too soon? It's been almost 40 years now. Still, the VN vets can be far more random than the WW2 ones. I used to have a VN era uniform and impression I'd take to timeline events in the 90s. I got so many "wigged out vet" types either giving me a ration of it for daring to wear their stuff or they'd hang out all day long at a display (scaring everyone else off) and having me as their own person therapist. I would never do VN in public again, after those experiences. I rid myself of my VN stuff in 97 and haven't missed it a bit.

 

How soon is too soon? I don’t know; how high is up? It’s actually been 41 years for me. I hope you don’t take the following comment/reply as combative and I certainly do not intend it to be rude, but you have made a couple comments that I believe require further amplification/comment.

 

What would you categorize as "more random that WW2 ones?" Also, I’d like you to explain in greater detail what you mean by the "so many wigged out vet types" comment. Perhaps they just couldn't understand why you would want to glorify a period of time or event that was personally bloody, brutal, and frightening to them. What did they do that was “wigged out?”

 

About Vietnam vets “hanging out” near your display; if your event is on private property, the property owner has the legal right to ask them to leave and they could be arrested for trespassing if they refused to do so. If it's public property, open to anyone, Vietnam vets have as much right there as anyone else.

 

What sort of therapy did you provide? Some of the 2.5 million who served/fought in Vietnam did/do need some sort of therapy. Many WW-II and Korean War vets need/needed it as well. We know for a fact that some returning Iraq and Afghanistan vets need therapy. Making light of that fact seems something of a cheap shot.

 

What, exactly, did these Vietnam vets do to scare others off. Did they jostle, push or shove others coming by? Did they threaten others with physical violence? If so, the victims of such threat/abuse could/should have had them arrested.

 

When one engages in any sort of public display, talk, demonstration, etc. on public property, others who disagree have an equal right to disagree, either verbally or though some sort of counter-demonstration. It happens all the time and one has to be able to deal with demonstrations or protests by others who disagree with one’s own views/actions. To disagree with, to demonstrate or protest against, such a display/demonstration is a Constitutionally-protected right. In fact, however distasteful as it may sound, the United States Supreme Court has even upheld the right of certain groups to demonstrate, berate and belittle people attending military funerals.

 

Just something to think about……… Best regards; Bill

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I knew people in Texas that were reenacting the Vietnam era 15 years ago.

 

That said, wearing Vietnam era uniforms in public back then could bring out a strong response. One of our locals in Dallas got taken to task at a gun / militaria show for wearing a set of Tiger Stripes. He was standing next to a PBR that was on display and ran into a group of about 5 Vietnam vets. They wanted to know if he was a vet or if he had a family member who had served. When he tried to explain himself, they just weren't buying the reenactor bit. Back then I think they thought they had found a "Stolen Valour" wanna-be pretend vet. After this experience, my friend never wore such an outfit to a show again. Meanwhile you had reenactors walking through the show in WWII Airborne and German Infantry uniforms all day long.

 

Fast forward to the present... the Vietnam Vets have now aged, and hopefully mellowed a little bit. Now if you have a 25 year old running around at a show wearing Jungle Fatigues its pretty obvious that he is not pretending to be the real thing.

 

One of my other hobbies is building plastic scale model aircraft. I remember at one of the annual IPMS National Conventions several years ago, one of the vendors was strutting around his table in full Nazi SS officer's uniform (I don't know it if was an authentic or replica uniform). It included an SS dagger and a functional Walther P-38 pistol in a holster.

 

After complaints from the public in attendance, this vendor, who was selling resin WW-I aircraft detail parts, was asked politely (and I witnessed this) to take the Nazi regalia off. He became very angry and abusive with the people putting on the contest and when finally told he would have to change out of the costume or leave the convention, he angrily stormed off. He returned about an hour later in a WW-II US Army combat uniform with fatigues, field jacket, web gear, Thompson SMG (don't know it it was functional or not), and two pineapple grenades, one on each suspender (I assume deactivated but......).

 

Many people in attendance expressed their concern and the people putting on the convention again came by and asked him to remove the grenades. He refused and again became loudly and profanely belligerent and abusive. The convention officials finally offered him a refund for his vendor and entry fees and asked him to take his for sale items and leave. when he was finally asked to take his for sale items items and leave, he refused. Finally (though I didn't actually witness this), the police had to be called to remove him, his grenades, and its for sale items.

 

This was not a militaria or reenacting event. His costumes had nothing to do with nor promoted what he was selling in the least. No other vendors, or attendees were in any sort of costume. Sadly, and in many cases undeservedly, this is the image many have of the reenacting crowd.

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It's just another bunch of wierdos doing another impression. Too soon all depends on who you ask.

 

That being said, cant wait to get to Firebase Friday in Mississippi this weekend.

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I was with a bunch that re-enacted Nam over 20 years ago. We had guys that did a great VC and even some NVA guys. We also had SF guys and regular grunts of the 1st and 25th... We all had a great time. Where we did it we went for a 24hr tactical. The night raids, ambushes were great. Nothing like being on your toes 24 hours straight or being on a night patrol and sending up a trip flare to wake you up. We felt it was more realistic than calling it quites at 6 p.m. :thumbsup:

 

As far as a time frame, consider that if we were re-enacting WW2 in the 80's, 40 years later, we are there now for Viet Nam.

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NobleLoyalGSD

I've been doing Vietnam reenacting and static public displays (no public "battles") since about 2002 and have had mostly good experiences with my contact with Viet vets.

 

As far as how soon is too soon for Vietnam reenacting? As was already mentioned, it's all relative but it's a question only you can really answer. "Never" may be a response from some vets while "it's about time" may come from others. Just be prepared to be constructive with vets - as well as non-vets - who are offended by your costume-wearing and role-playing. Then be prepared for the vets who are impressed and appreciate the respect and remembrance.

 

About a month ago I attended a public military history timeline display with my German shepherd where we portrayed a Vietnam era US Army scout dog team. It's a good way for us to get in some public awareness of the use of, and sacrifices, of the military working dogs of that era. I met a Vietnam dog handler who praised my efforts and thought it was "great" to see us out there. He even asked the park ranger in charge if we could be given the opportunity to talk about the Vietnam war dogs during the scheduled firearms demonstration throughout the day.

 

Several weeks later he invited me to a small private gathering of Vietnam dog handlers where one of them made it quite clear nonverbally and through obvious efforts at almost completely ignoring me what he thought of my presence. Others were more receptive and I was able to establish several contacts for my own learning about their experiences in Vietnam. You're just not going to please everyone, however.

 

For me, the time is now. Many vets are opening up about their experiences and are indeed grateful for the recognition, albeit late for some.

 

~Jeff

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Sgt_Rock_EasyCo

We have done Vietnam War displays at Air Shows in California for years and the guys have even done a Tactical at Camp Roberts. The displays are all well received by Vietnam Veterans. They're honored to be represented and in some cases many of them have never been told that their service was appreciated. Of course there were a few old hippie nincompoops that couldn't understand why we would display that time period on such a personal level. My opinion is that it's not too soon to do a Vietnam Reenactment but participation in most areas is somewhat lacking. Weaponry is a problem due to gun laws in California- A ClassIII dealer would need to bring blank firing weapons out and that requires more guys to rent weapons.

 

Vietnam War vets like to see their stuff sitting out. They all "remember" this and that and have tidbits and stories to tell.

 

I stopped doing Vietnam due to other things that are more important.

 

Rock

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I have a buddy that use to (before I corrupted him into doing USAAF ground crew) have a very large Viet Nam display. He had no problems and actually thought anyone doing VN reenacting was GREAT, oh, and he was wounded on hill 55 in Viet nam. B)

 

Scott

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I have a buddy that use to (before I corrupted him into doing USAAF ground crew) have a very large Viet Nam display. He had no problems and actually thought anyone doing VN reenacting was GREAT, oh, and he was wounded on hill 55 in Viet nam. B)

 

Scott

 

Small world. I was wounded on a triple-canopied ridge near Hill 55. We were on a counter-rocket patrol. It was July of 1967 and it was my second wound.

 

You didn't say when he was there. If he was there early, he would have been with the 3rd Marine Division. I believe the 9th Marines were at Hill 55 in 1966 (that was bewfore my time in Nam). Later, when the 3rd Division moved north, it became the home of the 7th Marine Regiment.

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Grizzly Adams
My question is this: Is it too soon to be doing these types of events? Being a histroy teacher, and related to many Nam vets and people in our country at the time, would it be in "bad taste" to do such a thing? I know there are the people that think reenacting in general sends the wrong message, so I guess I am appealing to already reenactors. I know there are people who already do it in our country, it's just not so mainstream (is anyone interested in it?). What really suprises me is the popularity of it in other countries!

 

My desire to do it is this; I have been reenacting WWII for about 6 years. I got into WWII because there was no Nam reenacting to speak of. As already stated, I am a history teacher and this plays a big part for one of my areas of passion and that is the war in Vietnam. My wife's uncle was wounded there, my wife's great uncle was an advisor there, my wife's other uncle was a GB in I Corps and travels there regularly to take photos and journals, my dad enlisted in the AF because of it, my good friend's dad was in the 4th ID on a 5 man combat tracker team. As a kid, one of my favorite shows was Tour of Duty. My neighbor was a 101st vet. For as long as I can remember, I have always had a fascination with it.

 

Here's the bottom line;

Reenact the Vietnam war, or not to reenact? Is there interest in it, at least in So Cal? (I know there are weapon restrictions here that damper it, but it is still doable.) Is it taboo?

 

Let the debate begin!!!

 

Well, I am a Vietnam Vet, and the only problem I have with it is dealing with the fact that I'm getting old enough to have folks reenacting a period I lived through! :lol:

 

I think your motives are good, and I believe it is time for folks like you to "tell the story" with all it's warts and hairs. It is our history, and many a fine lad gave his all in the performance of his duty. Those folks deserve to be remembered and honored.

 

I will never forget the day, three years ago, that a gent noticed a vet pin I wear, and came up to me, shook my hand, and said, "Thanks for your service." You could have killed me with a feather!

 

Go for it! :)

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2ndiddogface
Well, I am a Vietnam Vet, and the only problem I have with it is dealing with the fact that I'm getting old enough to have folks reenacting a period I lived through! :lol:

 

I think your motives are good, and I believe it is time for folks like you to "tell the story" with all it's warts and hairs. It is our history, and many a fine lad gave his all in the performance of his duty. Those folks deserve to be remembered and honored.

 

I will never forget the day, three years ago, that a gent noticed a vet pin I wear, and came up to me, shook my hand, and said, "Thanks for your service." You could have killed me with a feather!

 

Go for it! :)

 

Thanks! That means alot!

And indeed, Thank you for your service!!!

 

Joe

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I think he said 69 or 70. He volunteered to be an F.O and as he said,"I thought it was for f**k off". :D

 

Scott

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fraukriegbaum

My husband reenacts WWII. We went to Evansville IN for D-Day celebration and reenactment this year along with my father in-law. It was an awesome reenactment not UNTIL the one in charge of the event talking to the public thanking the Vets from WWI, WWII, Korea, Dessert Storm and present war Vets. HE EXCLUDED the VIETNAM VETS. NEVER mentioned it at all!!!!

My father in-law's (who has 2 Purple Hearts from Vietnam war) feelings was hurt that the man never mentioned VIETNAM war Vet. As if Vietnam never happened [or some people might say it's not a war.]

 

Vietnam Vets SERVED our country. How can one person forget or not mention thanking them too?

 

Just my thoughts....

 

P.S.: Yes. It's about time to recognize them....

 

There is one this weekend in Indianapolis.

 

 

Fort Harrison to host Vietnam Experience

Provided by Jeff Cummings

Posted: July 7, 2009Post a CommentRecommendE-mail Print ShareA A Veterans, families and the general public are all invited to the second Vietnam Experience, a tactical demonstration and encampment from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 18-19 at Fort Harrison State Park, 5753 Glenn Road, Indianapolis.

 

The Vietnam Experience will feature Vietnam era vehicles, weapons, uniforms, music and an open encampment for the public to visit. An indoor display will also be available inside the park office. There will be a battle re-enactment for the public at 2 p.m. July 18 on the Sledding Hill.

 

 

This event is a unique combination of military tactics and public demonstration of the Vietnam War that the United States fought in Vietnam from 1964 through 1973. The program will feature skirmishes between the opposing forces and an example of a typical U.S. Army field encampment in Vietnam in the late 1960's. This event is a result of a partnership and sponsorship of Fort Harrison State Park and the Museum of 20th Century Warfare.

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If there are men/women who want to do the Vietnam experience more power to them. For me I just do not get it. I mean no offense to those who do it. I put my down range fatigues and medals and just put them in a drawer when I got stateside. Some poeple in that period (early 69-early70's) gave lots of crap to vets who dared wear thier fatigues in public ( I did wear the pants when working on my car or yard work though). Thirty nine years latter the stuff vets wore out or threw away or packed up are now collectables......amazing. In my personal opinion I do not get upset with re -enactors if they do it right and remember and honor those who went through the real event.

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