MORRIS COUNTY, NJ – “Welcome Home: Morris County’s Vietnam Vets,” an online collection of data, photographs and facts about the Morris County men and women who served in the Vietnam War, was launched through the official Morris County website Tuesday in honor of National Vietnam War Veterans Day. The day observes when the last U.S. combat troops departed Vietnam on March 29, 1973.
The project is a collection of names, service narratives, historical information and photographs compiled by the county Office of Planning and Preservation, and it remains a work-in-progress. It is the latest chapter in a series of online projects known as the Morris County Veterans Compendium, in which the Office of Planning and Preservation has documented the military service of Morris County residents throughout history.
“The Morris County Veterans Compendium was inspired by a WWII veteran in 2009, who expressed that history would forget veterans’ service. In order to allay that concern, Morris County works to list veterans in all conflicts,” said Jan Williams, a cultural and historic resources specialist with the county.
Prior to U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan, the Vietnam War was the longest conflict in American military history and became the focus of a social and political divide in the nation that never fully healed. Returning military service members were often left unheralded and mistreated, an experience the nation and veterans continue to reckon with to this day.
“In communicating with Vietnam veterans, I was surprised to learn from several that our American soldiers were busy ‘winning hearts and minds’ in Vietnam, long before we became aware of the phrase. They cared for orphans, villagers, and worked tirelessly to leave Vietnam a better place. Although the veterans mentioned a lingering bitterness about the way they were treated upon return, they choose to focus on the honorable service they rendered during Nam,” Williams said.
The public is urged to continue reviewing the downloadable Vietnam collection to offer updates, additions and particularly photographs that will enhance the experience of those, particularly veterans, who view the webpage. Veterans also are encouraged to add tributes to the buddies they lost.
Information can be forwarded to Jan Williams at email@example.com.
The Office of Planning and Preservation has reached out to the public in the past to build webpages memorializing Morris County residents who served in the nation’s armed forces during other eras. An accounting of Civil War men of color affiliated with Morris County was initially launched in 2018, and the office continues to update its list of more than 3,000 residents who were part of The Greatest Generation – Morris County in WWII.
A page dedicated to veterans of the Spanish-American War and Philippine War was launched last year.
The Office of Planning and Preservation has created online collections of other historical aspects of Morris County residents, including railroad workers, canal workers and the county’s history of changing street names. The project lists may be found on the Office of Planning & Preservation projects website.
For the Vietnam page, a Vietnam veteran who was born in Morris County or has been a resident of the county for ten years is welcome to be recognized by submitting his or her information. The families of Vietnam vets who have passed on also may submit their information.
If a veteran has retired out of state, they qualify for listing, too.
The type of information needed for the project includes the names of the Vietnam veterans, their Morris County municipality, their service branch, battles or incidents participated in, awards or citations issued, and photographs are always appreciated.