More To The Story: Vietnam Veteran Reunion

Dave meets four veterans at their reunion

CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – The Vietnam War. A tough period of time for our country. We lost over 58,000 Americans in that conflict.

For those who made it back home alive, there were many challenges. And for a long while, the United States really didn’t treat our Vietnam vets with the respect they deserved. That’s well documented.

But those Vietnam vets had each other. They still do.

“About 1985, a bunch of us officers started getting together. We had 12-to-14 to start with. We’ve lost several. This year, there’s only four of us.”

But what a four it is. Gathering just a few days ago here in Chattanooga. Their annual get together. Third time here in The Scenic City.

92 year old Dale Betz from Tallahassee. 84 year old Dr. Slate Wilson from Portland. 83 year old Ed Fischer from West Virginia. And the youngester! 80 year old Kent Keasler from Chattanooga. Kent is the one who usually arranges the annual reunion.

All four were Navy officers in the mid 60’s. Serving on the Krishna. Anchored about a half mile off the coast of Vietnam.

“We can trade sea stories. But everybody has their own story about the time they spent aboard the Krishna.”

And they share those stories. Sometimes the same stories. Every year. In a nutshell, more than anything else, they talk. They catch up. And they’re happy to do so.
Because when leaving the war way back when, they weren’t sure if they’d ever cross paths again.

“I was just so happy to get away from there. I didn’t think about seeing them again. I couldn’t wait to leave.”

But now, these men can’t wait to SEE each other again. Dale Betz hasn’t missed a single reunion. He says it’s the hilight of the year for him.
Sure, some of the memories they share are not good. It was war. But the brotherhood they have is beyond good. And it never goes away. Never.

“We spent time together which was not the most pleasant time in the world. But making contact brings back good memories of what we had together.”

“There’s a bond. It’s meaningful. And it never goes away.”

So, this month, which is Military Appreciation Month, we honor these men. And all of our veterans. Three words come to mind. Job well done.

Actually, we add two MORE words.
Thank you. Dave Staley, News 12 Now.

Categories: Chattanooga, Featured, Hamilton County, Local News, More To The Story With Staley