Vietnam: Remembering Khe Sanh
For many veterans, the journey to a new life purpose is not an easy path. Help is available through crisis intervention, mentoring programs, employment initiatives, adaptive athlete opportunities, family support programs, arts and healing projects, civic service activities and so many other programs dedicated to serving those who served in America’s military. Find more information on getting and giving support in the Help Military Families section.
The National Memorial Day Concert shared the healing journey of one Vietnam Veteran on his search for a new mission.
In January 1968, fifty years ago, a truce was called in the middle of the Vietnam War in honor of the Lunar New Year, or Tet. In spite of the agreement, the North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong troops launched a surprise, full-scale offensive on cities across South Vietnam.
One of these targets was the remote Marine base at Khe Sanh in the Quảng Trị Province. Where 40,000 enemy troops faced up against only 2,500 Marines.
Among those fighting at Khe Sanh was the 1st Battalion 9th Marines, also referred to as “The Walking Dead” battalion due to having the highest casualty rate in Marine Corps history. Of the nearly 3,000 Marines who served with the 1/9 in Vietnam, over 25% would be Killed in Action. One young squad leader, Sergeant Bill Rider, survived, but the memories of those he lost in Khe Sanh have haunted him for fifty years. It wasn’t until 1999 that he was diagnosed with PTS and began to find healing.
Inspired by his journey, Bill founded the American Combat Veterans of War (ACVOW) in 2001 with the mission to help those veterans who have experienced the trauma of war.
For his service in Vietnam, Bill Rider was awarded the Purple Heart, Presidential Unit Citation and Naval Commendation with a Bronze V for valor among other commendations and was nominated for the Silver Star.