On March 7, 2020 a group of veterans were honored at Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial with a plaque that read:
“These U.S. Naval Officers were assigned to be advisors to the captains of Republic of Vietnam Navy combat ships that patrolled the major rivers and coast of South Vietnam to interdict smuggling, provide shore fire support for ground forces, humanitarian relief, and support services for ground-based naval units. All saw combat and were serving at the time of the Tet Offensive in 1968. Many were recipients of the Bronze Star, Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry and numerous other decorations.”
The plaque also contains a picture of the group when they were serving in Saigon in 1968. Len Vincenti, the head of the project, recalls, “If it hadn’t been for the picture, none of this would have happened… The picture was sort of the glue that brought it all together”. The close-knit group of 9 out of 12 members have kept in touch all these years since they left Vietnam in 1968. The three men who have sadly missed the event were Bernie Buettner, deceased, Al Parker, due to health issues, and Robert Bruce MacDougall.
These members graduated from thirteen weeks of Counterinsurgency Warfare School at the Naval Amphibious Base in Coronado fifty-three years ago. Shortly after graduating, they headed to Vietnam. At the memorial, Whitney Goit, one of the group members, spoke, “Today we stand here surrounded by memorials, heroes of other wars. Unlike many honored here, we did not come home to parades and a meaningful celebration. What binds us is not the sacrifice… What binds us is the quiet force of brotherhood, and the plain decency of good men… Here’s to those who can’t be here, and to the ladies that put up with us, and to this special event”. Goit had mix feelings about the honored due to his thoughts about the Vietnam War, but he loved that he was able to share his time with his dear lifelong friends and company.
Whitney Goit served for 3 and a half years.
Len Vincenti spent three years in active duty and three years in the reserves.
Phil Metres served five years in active duty and 22 years in the reserves.
Dick Robbins served the Navy for 22 years.
Ken Graves served five years in active duty and then 21 years in the reserves, where earned the rank of captain.
Noel Allen served two more years after he returned from Vietnam.
Wayne Oldendorph served for 5 years and graduated from USC. He later worked in Aerospace as a director of operations for Ryan Aeronautical which became Teledyne-Ryan.
If you wish to have a veteran – living or deceased – to be honored the way these men have been, contact us (https://soledadmemorial.org/honor-a-veteran/). You may also donate (https://soledadmemorial.org/donate/) to our memorial so that we can continue to honor veterans around the world.