My father criticized the Vietnam War when he was a POW. Here’s what he tells the military today:


On November 10, a U.S. soldier is cast on a part of the wall of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at the National Mall in Washington. The walls are engraved with the names of more than 58,000 Americans who died in the Vietnam War.

On November 10, a U.S. soldier is cast on a part of the wall of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at the National Mall in Washington. The walls are engraved with the names of more than 58,000 Americans who died in the Vietnam War.

On Memorial Day six years ago, I helped my dad assemble many parts of the white uniform in his service dress. As veterans, the local organizer asked us two to ride the floats at a local parade. Why are we? We represented a two-generation Navy career.

Before leaving for the parade, my dad and I took a picture side by side with our belongings. I held the rest of his F-4J aircraft, which I collected two weeks ago, in a village in Nghe An province in north-central Vietnam where my dad’s burning fighter crashed in 1968. As a pot for Tet flowers, which is a family holiday of the Chinese New Year in Vietnam.

Navy veterans Tom Wilbur and his father Jean Wilbur just before attending the 2015 Memorial Day parade.

Navy veterans Tom Wilbur and his father Jean Wilbur just before attending the 2015 Memorial Day parade.

At the funeral on July 15, 2015, the bullet nose of a shot down jet fighter of Navy pilot Jean Wilbur was reused as a flowerpot.

At the funeral on July 15, 2015, the bullet nose of a shot down jet fighter of Navy pilot Jean Wilbur was reused as a flowerpot.

Villain appearance when returning

My father, Jean Wilbur, jumped out of the plane two seconds before it entered the field. Unfortunately, his 24-year-old husband and father, his backseater, was unable to escape the 1968 Father’s Day accident. Crash site – the last resting place for his friend Bernie. We brought these memories to the parade of the day in 2015.

That was my father’s last Memorial Day. Three weeks later, Jean was diagnosed with a stage 4 brain tumor. Two weeks later he died. Jet engine parts were once again transformed into flowerpots, this time on display at his funeral.

Jean Wilbur boarded USS America in May 1968, preparing to fly a month before the plane was shot down.

Jean Wilbur boarded USS America in May 1968, preparing to fly a month before the plane was shot down.

It was difficult for Jean to stand upright in his last days, but he always stood out as a prisoner of war. An experienced career aviator and fighter commander, he believed he was fighting for peace in Vietnam. But even before he was shot down, he was skeptical. At Hoa Lo Prison in Hanoi, the first 20 months of loneliness gave him time to ponder. Jean concluded that the war was illegal and misguided, and truly believed in the rest of his life.

Most of the other POWs who opposed the war felt they had to suppress their beliefs and were worried that saying something would hurt their careers or, in the worst case, imprison them on their return. Was there. But my father opposed the war during and after his captivity. Conscience was a top priority for him. The war was wrong. If he does not speak out, his silence is self-betrayal.

Dad paid the price of dissent. A prisoner for nearly five years, he returned to be villainized among many others who were replaced by the embarrassment of the American invasion of Vietnam. did. In 1973, the Nixon administration was cleverly organized. Homecoming strategyWelcomed the returned POWs as a realization of “”Honorable peaceCreate an open season against the opposition.

Keep the Constitution, not your boss

To answer war critics, new stories have made it easier for decades since the war to blame America’s defeat with less power and broader anti-war movements against opposition POWs. By the time, hundreds of thousands of Americans were marching on the streets. Among them were tens of thousands of active GIs and veterans.

Avoiding the questions asked by Jean Wilbur and the opposition POWs, and not knowing any dissenting voices, our culture is bound to a false past, leaving only heroic myths. With this, we are destined to repeat Rambo’s cry forever, “Nothing is over!”

Daniel Ellsberg, Chief Defendant of the Pentagon Papers Proceedings, addresses an anti-war audience in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, April 1, 1972.

Daniel Ellsberg, Chief Defendant of the Pentagon Papers Proceedings, addresses an anti-war audience in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, April 1, 1972.

Fix it or exit it: The male-only conscription is a remnant of anti-female bias. The Supreme Court should withdraw this.

If Jean Wilbur would send a message to military personnel and their families on this Memorial Day, what would he say? He was not an antimilitarist. He felt the need for defense. He volunteered for the Navy and participated in more than 200 combat missions in South Korea and Vietnam. If he were here today, he would probably say: uphold and uphold the Constitution, because it’s your job. Your true loyalty goes beyond your direct boss, beyond your chain of command, across your organization. Remember that we must go beyond the principles by which our country was established. Please clarify your conscience.

Tom Wilbur, an independent researcher investigating US prisoners in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam from 1964 to 1973, said:Opposing POWs: From Hoa Lo Prison in Vietnam to America TodayHe has retired from the Navy Commander, who has been involved in the supply and distribution of submarines, ships and aviation for 20 years.

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This article was originally published in USA TODAY. Memorial Day Lessons from the Father of Vietnam War POWs: Opposition is Patriotic



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