Blackhorse Troopers Teach the Real Vietnam War
Five years ago the eighth grade daughter of Ollie Pickral was reaching the part of her history book, which covered a chapter on the Vietnam War. She told her teacher that her dad was a veteran and had founded a veteran's organization known as the 11th Armored Cavalry's Veterans of Vietnam and Cambodia. Her teacher, Mr. Hogge, asked if her dad would speak about his war experiences to his classes at Richardson North Junior High School. Ollie accepted the invitation and asked Eric Newton who also served in K-Troop with him to help out. Eric is the Public Relations Officer for the 11thACVVC. Eric had an extensive collection of equipment and a few weapons for the show and tell portion of the presentation. The ultimate goal was to tell the truth about the contributions Vietnam Veterans made at the request of their government. To educate future generations about the sacrifices made by young soldiers who went off to war like their forefathers before them to guarantee the freedoms so many take for granted each day. To dispel the Hollywood stereotypes the anti-war factions bestowed on veterans in the years immediately following the war by portraying them as second class citizens.
To date no Vietnam veteran holds the title of "Serial Killer" or "Mass Murderer". Instead, they have become leaders and productive members of our society such as our Vice President, Al Gore, Senator John McCain ex-POW, Dennis Franz of NYPD Blue, Pat Sajak, Wheel of Fortune, Fred Smith, founder of Federal Express Corporation, and football superheroes like Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach. The list goes on and on. Over the years the worm has turned and it is now more fashionable to be a Vietnam veteran than a war protester. In fact your chance is about one in a million getting someone to admit to the later. Unfortunately the anti-war factions from the college campuses were in the driver's seat in the 70's and 80's and in position to approve the books our school children now use. These sometimes-biased histories either lightly touched on the war or present the slanted views of those who opposed it. Seldom did those who experienced the war first hand tell the story. It is our hope to present the veteran's perspective to children who were not yet born during the Vietnam War. The following are a small sampling of some rather impressive letters from some of the students from Mrs. Chambers class with an average age of fourteen. This is what it's all about.
Dear Mr. Pickral and Mr. Newton, 4/22/99
Thank you very much for taking the time out of your day to come and share your war experiences with us. I learned that war isn't about killing the other person and go home. It's about giving your life to your country so that future generations can live their life free and safe. I also learned about all the weapons you both fought with. The ones that amazed me the most were the little pins (fletchettes) which were shot out of the tanks. I never knew that there were such weapons. You both taught me so much. I just want to say thank you from my heart and from the millions of hearts of the children in America. You and the rest of the brave soldiers you fought with gave many Americans freedom. I can not say thanks enough. Katie S
Ollie and Eric,
Thank you for coming to talk to our class. I had no idea how horrible it was to fight there. You taught me a lot that I couldn't have learned from some book. It was amazing how many guns and stuff you had from the war. Thank you again for speaking to our class. Sincerely Danielle H
Dear Mr. Pickral and Mr. Newton,
Thank you very much for taking time out of your busy schedule to visit us students here at Richardson North Junior High School. I found your visit to be very interesting and enriching to me as a young adult and possible recruit to the military. Thank you very much for showing our class the actual equipment and other pieces from the war in which you fought in. The video was also helpful in educating me about wars and military. It was very interesting to see the various articles of clothing as well as the weapons from both our side and the Vietnamese. The rocket launcher was the most interesting weapon in my opinion because of its uniqueness, power, size and operation. I could not believe how the rocket fired from the launcher so accurately. Those objects were neat to see. In addition, I would like to thank you for encouraging me to enlist in the military when I reach the required age. Your speeches boosted my pride for my country and also my willingness to fight. Through your words I became more inspired and also more reverent to you both and everyone who has ever dedicated and given their lives to the United States. I am starting to realize how lucky I am as a fifteen-year-old boy to live during a period of time where I do not have to worry about living the next day. I really respect both of you men for what you have given to our country. Your speechs have not only boosted my nationalistic pride, but my pride for other things and beliefs as well as my self esteem have boosted as well. Thank you both very much for talking to us students yesterday and thank you also for all you have given and pledged to our great country to make it what it is today.