Give us our history

A researcher and contributor of 1st Brigade, 5th Infantry Division (Mechanized) history in Vietnam recently expressed to his peers some ideas about history and the problems in doing research and making it accessible to all. I share it with you so that you'll know my intentions and those of other web-administrators on the other unit web-sites and a few of the obstacles we have to overcome in making the history of the 5th Infantry Division accessible. For a time we shared many things and we took care of each other; it is time to do so again so that we and others do not forget what we did and that we speak for our brothers whose names are etched in black stone. "Have you forgotten... your brothers... your promise?"

CSM(r) G. Huber - National Webmaster, Society of the Fifth Division

Just so you know, I'm into strictly the facts for what I'm doing.
Things that come off the top of anyone's head and the war stories really
help and I need that kind of information up front, but I can't use that
information other than as a guide to define my way to actual military
sources of fact that I want to publish that will serve us all for years to
come. When I press for information sometimes there are those who think I'm
challenging their memories and honesty. I'm not. I'm doing historical
research and not revisionist history. I'm not doing any of this to be
anyone's pal or buddy. I'm doing it for us who served and the families who
sacrificed so much. You're not ever going to come across anyone else who
served with us who will be able to back up their war stories like we can
with the original government documentation--the historical facts. I want
to make that accessible to us and the public.
My concern here (and this is what I think concerning how my
research is presented on any media) is something I've had expressed to me
and that's a hesitance in wanting to know the facts and details much less
understand them. It has been expressed to me that some think that the
facts and details are somehow not a part of what was their experience in
Vietnam, that facts and details are the realm of their officers or someone
higher up and should be left up to them now. This is not true at all, by
any means, since there are many officers who know less sometimes than some
of the noncoms they depended on.
Also, publishing lists of facts doesn't add to the historical
significance of what we researchers do without some explaining about how
facts are compiled. There must be accurate explanations to define the
information and where it came from so that it's historically credible,
usable and technically can't be compromised later by someone trying to
revise history. Example, I just read a newspaper article stating "every"
name on the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington D.C. is the name of a
soldier who died heroically in battle in Vietnam. This skews the facts of
history. More accurately would have been that there are some estimates
that 43% of the names on the Vietnam Memorial Wall were not because they
were heroes in battle; they were the direct cause of friendly fire, men
shot from behind if you will, many not even aware they were in a battle.
There are also the names of victims of suicides, murders, drug overdoses,
vehicle accidents, drownings, crashes and who knows what else listed on
that Wall. The point being, I would like to see those with the vehicles to
communicate with the public contribute historically rather than just
operating what amounts to be web chat-rooms. There are many who will help,
but it does require something a few think they are short on and that's
time, space and the real killer--expertise. I think this can be done with
the same or even less energy than is being spent on it now. Expertise can
be acquired by anyone who will listen and there are many who give it freely
and gladly and are more than willing to help.
Finally, a big problem for the Vietnam Veteran in dealing with
Vietnam is turning what was a totally introverted experience (many times
scary and always distorted) into something more meaningful beyond
themselves. That's what the research and writing of history is about as
far as what I'm trying to do. My idea is that history helps to heal, bring
our stories to light and finally reward those who decided to answer the
call, give their all and make a difference. In this age of the internet
there are many who have already created the vehicle to define history.
Some are doing so unwittingly. I hope those who are reluctant won't cut
themselves and their units they represent short because they think they
don't know enough to contribute along these lines. There is enough
information accessible now to make someone who wasn't alive during the
Vietnam era or ever in the military know more than a battalion commander
about what our missions were about with the actual tissue of history--the
recorded documents kept back then. Don't cut yourself and the people you
served with short. Give the families who sacrificed and us our story, with
truth, dignity, respect and honor. Give us our history.
Keith Short

For an example of Keith's efforts to research and publish the historical records of the First Brigade, Fifth (Mech) Infantry Division, Quang Tri, RVN, please use this link to Lam Son 719 which is located in our Society of the Fifth Division web site. Keith is now taking orders for his research manual [Short, Keith B. (2003). 1ST INFANTRY BRIGADE (RED DEVILS), 5TH INFANTRY DIVISION (MECHANIZED). Colorado. Roshtiek] . For more information please click on this [RESEARCH MANUAL] or contact Keith using the email link below. And don't forget to give us your "Feedback" and a little history using the feedback form link.


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