VVMF President And His Platoon Sergeant Return To Xuan Loc
23 August 2007
Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF) Founder and President Jan Scruggs and his longtime friend Jimmy Mosconis of Apalachicola, Fla., who served as his platoon sergeant in the 199th Light Infantry Brigade during the Vietnam War, will return on Aug. 25 to the location in South Vietnam where they were both wounded 38 years ago.
The visit to Xuan Loc will be a side trip from the delegation to Vietnam that Scruggs is hosting from Aug. 19-26. The trip will take delegates, including Mosconis, from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, meeting with Vietnamese officials, touring areas of historic interest and inspecting the operations of Project RENEW™, VVMF’s humanitarian and mine-action program in Vietnam.
Scruggs and Mosconis were wounded during a battle in Xuan Loc on May 28, 1969. “It was very traumatic for me, for everyone there,” Scruggs said. “The genesis of the Memorial was my experiences in Vietnam when I was a teenager in the Army.” His desire to remember the names of those he served with and those who died in Vietnam are what motivated him to conceive of the idea of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and fight for its completion. This year is the Memorial’s 25th anniversary.
“When I left there 30-some years ago, I never dreamed I’d be going back,” said Mosconis, who runs a fishing lodge in Florida. This will be his first trip back to Vietnam and Xuan Loc since he served there.
Scruggs has been to Vietnam many times before. This delegation is VVMF’s sixth back to the country. The group launched Project RENEW™ in 2000 to provide mine awareness, removal of unexploded ordnance, job assistance and medical help for victims of land mines.
“For years, Jan has been trying to get me to go back,” said Mosconis. Now that he has agreed, Scruggs has set up the side trip he has put off for so long—visiting Xuan Loc. “I’m not sure if we will be able to find the exact place,” said Scruggs. “We were pretty deep in the jungle. But we will be able to find the villages that were near us and talk to the people. They were all very nice.
“I wanted to take this trip with Jimmy, to see the village, to talk to people who might remember our unit,” Scruggs added.
“I think what I will bring back from this trip is how peace-loving the people of Vietnam really are,” said Mosconis. “I thought that about them when I was over there the first time.”
The trip to Xuan Loc is sure to be emotional for the two Army buddies, as they remember their days as young soldiers and also recall the friends they lost.
“It will be strange for me,” Mosconis noted. “It will be strange going back to the place I’ve had more dreams about than any other subject. I told my wife the other day, ‘I wonder what I’ll dream about when I’m over there?’”
Soon, he will find out.Established in 1979, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund is the nonprofit organization authorized by Congress to build the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Today, through a series of outreach programs, it is dedicated to preserving the legacy of The Wall, promoting healing, educating about the impact of the Vietnam War and is building the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Center, an underground educational facility, near The Wall.
Project RENEW™ is a cooperative effort between VVMF and the Quang Tri Province People's Committee that is designed to Restore the use of lands to the Vietnamese through Education and Neutralization of the Effects of the War. Project RENEW™ removes land mines and unexploded ordnance from the region, distributes mine awareness materials, provides medical assistance and helps land mine victims become self-supporting.
For more information about Project RENEW™ or any of VVMF’s programs, visit www.vvmf.org.
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