On Memorial Day 1998, the 11th ACVVC presented a leather bound book containing the names of our fallen brothers to the DAV Vietnam Veterans National Memorial at Angel Fire, New Mexico. Dr. Victor Westphall built the memorial after the death of his son, Marine Lt. Victor David Westphal III who was killed o May 22, 1968. I presented the Honor Roll of the 1lth Armored Cavalry Regiment to Dr. Westphal for permanent display. Click for photo. The book will be available to visitors and has the mailing address, telephone number as well as our Internet address. A duplicate copy will be on display at the New Orleans reunion.
The day began with a motorcycle run to the memorial from the town of Red River which was the staging area for the weekend Memorial Day Rally. I was selected to ride point as my black and chrome Harley Davidson flew the POW/MIA and US flag. The group followed the big Blackhorse embroidered on my leather jacket as we cruised the winding mountain road in staggered formation.
The ceremony opened with a three helicopter fly over in what was one of the best weather days since the opening and ended with a flight of four F-16's in the missing man formation. The names of those who lost their lives on the day of the May ambush were about to be read. As the announcement began, you noticed something had caught the attention of some of the crowd who now looked to the sky above. I looked up to see that a lone eagle was hovering directly above the crowd facing the stage. Then at the moment the first name was read the eagle let out that shriek you hear only on those wild kingdom shows. Chills went through the crowd as the eagle finished his tribute and soared into the valley. It was truly the most moving moment I have experienced.
We want you to know that your brothers have not and will not ever forget how you helped the rest of us survive. We all watched out for each other, but I guess we did not do as good a job watching over you, as you did for us. We all scattered when we got home, but we are now reunited again. We have had twelve reunions since 1986 and have located 17,000 of the 21,000 that served with the Blackhorse Regiment. We have had as many as two thousand at a reunion to honor you.
As time passes, the history of the war is being rewritten. The men of the Blackhorse Regiment have been cited by military historians as being one of the top combat units of the Vietnam War. We can all be proud. Proud to know that we accomplished something good.
The times have changed and we veterans are more respected by our countrymen now. They have come to understand that the media and the anti-war factions distorted the facts. Those who protested and evaded the draft have more psychological problems than the vets. Their guilt runs deep. They must have all vanished from the earth because I have not meet one in decades. Ashamed of their actions, they are silent and have retreated to the closet.
The media and others still mention that we lost in Vietnam. But we know better. Our guys left three years before the fall of Saigon and the rest of the combat troops left a year after that. How could you lose a war when you weren't there? As Chaplain Vernon Nevil said at our memorial service at the Indianapolis reunion, "Nobody - nobody - whips the 11th Armored Cav".
Our stand against aggression in Vietnam and around the world saved many countries from becoming dominated by communists and made it unnecessary to have to fight on our own soil. It ultimately caused the collapse of the USSR and the removal of the Berlin Wall. Even Vietnam is feeling the pressure and begs to become part of the world of capitalism. Others will follow.
Eric L. Newton
K Troop, 3/11
You can access the HONOR ROLL in the Site Contents page of our Home Page.