Lt. Col. Cary King delivered an informative and non-political presentation about his experience in Vietnam at the July 19 meeting of the Dunwoody Rotary Club.
King, a local Rotarian, served in the U.S. Army and National Guard and was in the Infantry and artillery in Vietnam in 1967 and 1968. He was also part of the Big Red One in 1967 as senior intelligence officer. He has donated 18,000 hours of counseling for veterans through his organization, VA Pro Bono, since 1998.
King’s lecture centered on dispelling myths about the Vietnam War, such as:
1. The war was fought by young, uneducated draftees. Not true! Only 25 percent were draftees; 75 percent were regular military or volunteers, and 80 percent had a high school diploma.
2. The war was fought by teenagers. Not true! Of those killed in action, the average age was 22.8. Only 12 were 17.
3. The war was fought by minorities. Not true! Twelve percent of soldiers killed in action were African American, while the U.S. population included 14 percent African American. Five percent killed in action were Hispanic, compared to the overall U.S. Hispanic population of 8 percent.
4. Vietnam vets do not have a higher rate of suicide than the general population. Their rate is 1.7 percent.
5. Soldiers did not regularly go into battle under the influence of drugs. If they did, they were court marshaled.
6. Returning soldiers were not unemployed at a higher rate than the general population. Their rate of unemployment was 2.5 percent.
7. Contrary to popular belief, the degree of vets’ post- traumatic stress, 5 percent, is lower than the rate for the general population.
Vietnam veterans do not talk about their experiences because of their treatment during the 1970s.
King gave horrific examples of actions taken by despots in other countries who eliminated millions of their own people. His unit is recognized as the one that protected the Saigon water purification plant, which served the city and the U.S. soldiers.
Well-known Vietnam veterans include Kris Kristofferson, Pat Sajack, Al Gore, Oliver Stone and Chuck Yeager.
King is an attorney with Jacobs & King and offers mediation, arbitration, neutral evaluation, negotiation, collaborative law, and other services. He has been awarded five Bronze Stars, two for valor; a Purple Heart; five Air Medals; the Vietnamese Honor Medal; Air Crewman’s Wings; and other awards. He volunteers with 15 different support groups including the USO.