Submitted by: David Hartline
In July 1969, the first combat battalion was to be withdrawn from Vietnam, President Nixon announced that he would be withdrawing troops from the battlefield of Vietnam. The Paris Peace talks were in stalemate. The Peace Accord could not decide on the shape of the negotiating table or who was to sit at it. To show good faith, President Nixon ordered General Abrams to form a unit of combat troops and send them home. The 3rd BN/60th Infantry BDE/9th Infantry Division. would be the first unit sent home. Solders within the 9th Division who had two or less weeks left on their tour would be ordered to report to the headquarters of the 3rd BN that was stationed on the Navy's riverboats on the Makong River. Soldiers within the 3rd BN who had more than two weeks left on their tour were reassigned to the 9th Division.
The departing unit had 814 troops total. They were flown to Tan Son Nhut Air Base near Saigon for farewell speeches by South Vietnam President Thieu and General Abrams, commander of all forces in Vietnam. The battalion of troops were flown to Fort Lewis, Wash. on the U.S. Air Force C141 jets. At Fort Lewis, the troops were met by General Westmoreland and his staff. A parade was to take place in downtown Seattle. On July, 11, 1969, General Westmoreland led the troops in the parade for 12 blocks to the civic center for a fish fry. The parade was met by angry war protesters who were throwing eggs, tomatoes, etc. and shouting obscenities at the troops. After the parade, the troops were brought to Fort Lewis and turned loose to find their way home.
David Hartline was a member of this returning unit. This July marks the 50th anniversary. David is the past American Legion Department of Alabama commander, 2015-2016.
About the author:
David Hartline was a member of the returning soldiers. His next duty station would be Ft. Hood, Texas. While stationed there, David met a student nurse at Darnell Army Hospital named Patricia Hollister from near Scranton, Pennsylvania. They married in 1970 and have four successful children. David is a best-selling author of three books and another book is in the works. He is the past state commander of the American Legion, Department of Alabama.