Nine members of the Vietnam Veterans Association of America, Chapter 1008 spoke to students from Elizabethtown Area High School as part of their unit on the Vietnam War. The program allowed the current students to hear directly from Vietnam veterans about their personal responsibilities that ranged from combat infantry, aviation, to supply.
Among the many topics covered by the panel of veterans were the branch of service each served in, how it came to be that they fought in the war (drafted or enlisted), their own individual experiences and responsibilities in Vietnam, and what it was like upon their return. The students heard first-hand accounts of what it was like to be a sailor in the “brown water” navy, on board a “blue water” supply vessel, a member of a helicopter squadron taking soldiers to and from the combat zone, and a combat soldier in the jungle.
Particularly impactful to the current high school students was the conversation that centered on the age each member of the panel was at the time they served in Vietnam. Many of the veterans were the same age as the high school students during their time in the war. The Vietnam veterans also took time to answer student questions, as well as brought artifacts for the students to see.
The living history experience undeniably enhanced the students’ study of the war by having a much deeper and enriching account of the war from veterans who actually fought for our country during the conflict. The panel consisted of Gary Landvater, Army; Ron Rhinier, Navy; Mike Krunitsky, Navy; Ron Horn, Navy; Doug Kelly, Navy; Ed Krasznai, Marines; Bruce Deisinger, Marines; John Dobish, Army; and Ed Bookman, Army.