News Release: U.S. Veterans Visit Vietnam

10 January 2010

Nearly 30 Americans with connections to the Vietnam War will be visiting Vietnam next week as part of an educational and humanitarian delegation organized by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.

During the nearly week-long delegation, participants will honor those who served, remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice and learn about the conflict’s legacy. They will also get a first-hand look at Project RENEW, VVMF’s mine-action program in Quang Tri Province.

The delegation will be comprised of more than a dozen U.S. war veterans who served during the Vietnam War, along with several of their family members and other individuals who have loved ones who served and sacrificed in Vietnam. It begins Jan. 11 in Hanoi with stops in Hue, Quang Tri and Da Nang before departing Jan. 17 from Ho Chi Minh City. Delegates will be traveling from the Washington, D.C. area, Delaware, Florida, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

Prominent American war veterans
The VVMF delegation will be led by Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey, USA (Ret.), who served with the U.S. Army in Vietnam. He is the former director of drug control policy under President Bill Clinton and is currently a national security and terrorism analyst with NBC News. He served in the U.S. Army for 32 years and retired as a four-star general, receiving numerous honors for service and valor during his four combat tours.

A 1964 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Gen. McCaffrey is president of BR McCaffrey Associates LLC, a consulting firm that provides strategic, analytic and advocacy services to businesses, nonprofits, government and international organizations. He last visited Vietnam about eight years ago in his capacity as the U.S. drug czar. Gen. McCaffrey will be giving a presentation on “Strategic Challenges Facing the Global Community” to Vietnamese officials and university students on Jan. 12 in Hanoi.

Gen. McCaffrey will be joined by San Antonio businessman Peter M. Holt and Jan Scruggs. Holt is the CEO of Holt Companies, whose holdings include Holt CAT—the largest Caterpillar dealer in the United States. He also owns the San Antonio Spurs basketball team, as well as several other San Antonio professional sports teams.

Holt is VVMF’s chairman of the campaign to build The Education Center at The Wall, an underground learning facility being built on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. This visit is Holt’s first since serving with the U.S. Army in Vietnam more than three decades ago.

Jan Scruggs served with the U.S. Army in Vietnam and, in 1979, conceived of the idea to build a national memorial dedicated to all who served with the U.S. military in Vietnam. The Memorial—known today as The Wall—is one of the most visited in Washington, D.C. Led by Scruggs, VVMF continues to honor those Americans who served in Vietnam through educational programs and special events held each year.

Scruggs first returned to Vietnam in 2000 with a group of prominent corporate executives who served with the U.S. military during the Vietnam War. When he saw how the war continues to affect the Vietnamese decades later, he initiated Project RENEW, a mine-education and mine-remediation program launched in 2001 with the Quang Tri Province People’s Committee. Project RENEW is focused on Preserving the Environment and Neutralizing the Effects of War. More than 350,000 tons of explosive remnants of war (ERW) continue to plague Vietnam more than 30 years after the conclusion of the Vietnam War.

Vietnam veterans and their families
In addition to Gen. McCaffrey, Holt and Scruggs, the delegation will be comprised of several other American veterans of the Vietnam War, some of whom are traveling with family members: Albion “Al” Bergstrom (Portsmouth, R.I.); Wayne Gatewood and his wife, Donna (Annandale, Va.); Gerard “Jerry” Maroney (Coram, N.Y.); John McEvilly Jr. (Arlington, Va.) and his son, Justis (London, England); Samuel Metters (Arlington, Va.); Lester Newell (Arlington, Va.); Patrick Pellerin Jr. (Washington, D.C.); David Stone and his wife, Patricia (Champions Gate, Fla.) and George A. Whitehouse (Silver Spring, Md.) and Thomas Whitehouse (Lake Oswego, Ore.) and their father George W. Whitehouse (a World War II veteran from Emmaus, Pa.).

Additional Vietnam War connections
Other members of the VVMF delegation with connections to the Vietnam War include:
Lynda Benedict (Albuquerque, N.M.), the widow of Vietnam veteran Chris Benedict who died as a result of his service in Vietnam. He is a member of VVMF’s In Memory Honor Roll.

Judy Bishop (Washington, D.C.), whose uncle Joseph Heisley served in Vietnam. She is the director of the Heisley Family Foundation, which has pledged $2.5 million to build The Education Center at The Wall.

Judy Campbell (Wilmington, Del.), the sister of Vietnam veteran Keith Allen Campbell who was killed in Vietnam.

Linda George (East Stroudsburg, Pa.) whose husband, Robert Lee George, a Vietnam veteran, died as a result of his service in Vietnam. He is a member of VVMF’s In Memory Honor Roll.
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