For Vietnam War Veterans Day, vets share stories and objects from the war

At an event for Vietnam War Veterans Day at the National Museum of the U.S. Army in Fort Belvoir, Virginia, soldiers who served in the war shared their stories, as well as some of the objects they brought back with them.

March 29, 1973 was the day U.S. military command in Vietnam was disestablished, the last of combat troops departed Vietnam, and Hanoi began releasing the last acknowledged U.S. prisoners of war.

The bipartisan bill recognizing March 29 as National Vietnam War Veterans Day was signed into law by President Donald Trump in 2017.

Col. Miguel Monteverde, a Vietnam War veteran and volunteer at the museum, spoke to WTOP at the event.

“I will tell you, 47 years since the war has been over … I’ve never been asked anything, outside my family, about my Vietnam experience,” he said. “And to have people willing to come here and express an interest in that — that feels good.”

At just 25, Monteverde became the battery commander for Fire Support Base Currahee in Vietnam’s A Shau Valley.

“We were attacked by indirect fire. In other words, mortars and rockets. We were hit with a very, very heavy ground attack one night in June of 1969,” Monteverde said.

“And we came through that very successfully. We fought off the attackers, and took no fatalities … We were rather proud of that.”

For those interested in military history, the scene Monteverde described was part of the infamous 10-day Battle for Hamburger Hill.

Col. Miguel Monteverde
Col. Miguel Monteverde. (Photo WTOP/Luke Lukert)

Monteverde shared an object from his Vietnam experience: a pair of water buffalo horns that was mounted on a plaque. It was handmade by fellow soldiers at the base and given to him when he departed the valley.

“The fact that they went to the effort to put this together when I left has made this a very treasured memento from that time,” Monteverde said.

Capt. Marcy Nurendorf served as a nurse stationed in Vietnam from 1970 through 1971.

“If you got to one of our units, you never died alone … And we also saved a lot of people,” Nurendorf said.

Col. Miguel Monteverde and Capt. Marcy Nurendorf. (WTOP/Luke Lukert)

Her father served during World War II and often spoke to her about “that nurse” who took care of him when he had frostbitten legs.

“I always said, maybe one day I’ll be that nurse,” Nurendorf said.

She recalled a patient that she rolled into the operating room after a 14-hour shift.

“As we were rolling in, he said, ‘Oh, You’re my angel,’” said Nurendorf.

“I’m looking at him saying, ‘Yeah, I look like an angel and my head is a mess, my scrub dresses all got all stuff on it.’ And, I walk him down and he says, ‘Will you stay with me until I get under anesthesia?’

“I held his hand and he went to sleep. And I realized that I was probably that nurse to him. And he probably tells his daughter and his friends this nurse held my hand.”

At the museum, Nurendorf displayed her dog tags and a quilt of valor sewn by the Daughters of the American Revolution.

When asked how she felt sharing her Vietnam experience with museum goers, she said “It’s sort of emotional, as well as a proud moment.”

One of Nurendorf’s friends from the American Legion, also a Vietnam veteran, showed up to support her. He lovingly described her, and other nurses who served, as “angels.”

Display at National Museum of the U.S. Army. (WTOP/Luke Lukert)

In all, about a dozen soldiers shared objects at the museum event, from North Vietnamese helmets to maps they used in battle.

While he was flight training “Huey” helicopters in Vietnam, Capt. Norman Nuzzi was gifted a hat from an Australian Military Police soldier after a night of fun. He displayed that hat for the museum crowd during the event.

Tammy Call, whose father served in Vietnam, is the director for the National Museum of the U.S. Army. She told WTOP that veterans who volunteer with the museum are essential in sharing the history.

“It was so important for us to be able to showcase our volunteers. They are so active, and they’re such an important part of the museum team. It’s something special tied to their service in Vietnam,” Call said.

Luke Lukert

Since joining WTOP Luke Lukert has held just about every job in the newsroom from producer to web writer and now he works as a full-time reporter. He is an avid fan of UGA football. Go Dawgs!

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