|By Michelle Symington|
SOUTHWICK John Boudreaux, known as "Big John," who served in the Vietnam War, is calling on all of his fellow Vietnam veterans to help him educate the public about the similarities in the war in which they served and the current war in Iraq.
Boudreaux was a combat first lieutenant with the 1/1 Cavalry from 1968 - 1969 in Vietnam, and has many fellow comrades serving in Iraq.
He explained that, like the Vietnam War, the administration has lied about the reasons the United States became involved with Iraq, there is no exit strategy and there is a no-win strategy.
For example, he said that some of his friends who are members of the military police have returned home to tell him stories that have similarities to his experiences in Vietnam.
He said that some of his friends who returned home explained that they would invade and take over a police station in Iraq, may lose four or five guys and once they took it, it would be turned back over to the Iraq police and would end up back in the wrong hands.
"What is the use in fighting when it is back in the hands of the insurgents?," he asked.
In Vietnam, he said that he and his fellow veterans would "take a hill" and once they got to the top, they would spend a day there and then leave.
"A week or so later, [we would] find the VC [Viet Cong] had comeback," he said. "Why take it just to leave."
According to Boudreaux, many Vietnam veterans are saying that the war in Iraq is a civil war that "we shouldn't be involved in."
In addition to similarities in combat, Boudreaux has witnessed similar ways in which the wars have affected families.
He explained that he receives phone calls from wives of men who have returned home from combat to talk to him about how their husbands have nightmares from their experiences in the war in Iraq.
"It not only affects the soldiers, but it affects the families when they get back," he said.
He explained that the first goal of his organization and the rally this weekend is to create dialogue about the similarities between the two wars through stories told by Vietnam War veterans.
"People never talk about this and I find that I am not alone," Boudreaux said. "[I want to] get Vietnam vets to inform the public as to what is going on so they can make better decisions for the country."
He said that the second goal of the rally is to show support for the troops serving in the war and to put pressure on the administration to bring them back.
He added that the administration has hidden agendas for the current war as he said they had during the Vietnam War.
He said that the rally is planned to get people together, both Vietnam Veterans and the general public, to "let them know there is a brotherhood."
According to Boudreaux, this is the last mission for the Vietnam veterans.
"We went to Vietnam to end all wars and here we are in war," he said. "Vietnam veterans are the only witnesses to what happened in the past."
Boudreaux said that the rally is also a "big party" and that Vietnam veterans and that entire generation is known for "having a good time."
She said the rally will bring people together to have a good time and get people involved with politics and current affairs.
"We feel we have a lot to say," he said.
He said that many people he has spoken with have no idea why the United States is in the war.
"Out of sight, out of mind," Boudreaux said. "We [have to get] the dialogue going. I have been there, done that and it is not in the best interest of the country."
Boudreaux organized the rally on Saturday with his own money.
"I paid for everything myself because I feel it is that important," he said. "If I didn't, I would not be a patriot. I feel a lot of people feel the same way."
The rally will take place at Crabby Joe's, located on Lake Congamond in Southwick.
He said that he chose that location because "Vietnam vets like to party and if you do something, do it right to celebrate our freedom and come together so that we can all feel the brotherhood."
He said that he hopes to attract about 1,000 people for the rally. He had placed flyers at local colleges to try to get some additional people involved.
"It looks like my little seed is growing," he said. "If one guy does make a difference, let's see if a bunch of guys can make a difference."
The rally will take place on Sept. 25 from 2:30 - 8 p.m. at Crabby Joe's. The band Diamond back will perform. Admission is free, but donations will be accepted to support the troops in Iraq.
Boudreaux said that donations will also be accepted for victims from Hurricane Katrina.
He added that items, such as medical antiseptic swabs, are needed for the troops because some supplies for the troops are being diverted to help the victims of the hurricane.
For more information about the organization or the rally, visit www.vietnamvetsagainstthewar.org or email Boudreaux at firstname.lastname@example.org.