On Wednesday’s Tennessee Star Report with Steve Gill and Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 am to 8:00 am – the duo took a call from a Vietnam era veteran named Ben, who clarified the statement made by Nathan Phillips regarding his service as “Vietnam veteran times” was technically incorrect statement due to the fact that, as Ben clarifies, the country was downsizing at that time.
Gill: Why aren’t we seeing Marines step up and say “Oh yeah I went to boot camp with this guy. I served with this guy.” Why aren’t we seeing anyone in the media actually dig deeper into who this guy is and how his story is as false as his claim that the kids approached him. Let’s go next to Ben. Ben you’re on the Tennessee Star Report good morning.
Ben: Good morning, I really appreciate you guys so it couldn’t be a better breathe of fresh air.
Gill: Thank you.
Ben: Ok, there was a difference between a combat Veteran which I am not, I’m a Vietnam-era veteran.
Ben: I served during the period of Vietnam and conjoined American Legion but not the VFW. The combat Veterans can be on both the VFW and American Legion.
Gill: And Ben, let me make sure that I make this crystal, absolutely clear. We are not intending to diminish or demean the service of anybody who served whether it was in the Vietnam era, or post Vietnam era, whether somebody went into combat. If you were in the uniform and were in that role, you know, you’re entitled to complete respect for your service. You don’t have to go into combat to have been put yourself willing to do what you were ordered to do. So while we’re trying to draw the distinction here between what this Phillips character has portrayed it is the basis of he has mis-portrayed his service not to diminish the service of anybody who served during the Vietnam era whether they went or didn’t. This guy is simply falsely portraying himself and allowing himself to be portrayed as something he’s not. It’s the lie that bothers me.
Ben: All veterans, regardless of if we served over seas or not. Because two thirds of the military at that time did not serve in combat. A lot of people don’t realize that. That’s an approximate number. Whereas one third actually did. And some of them chose to serve more than one tour of duty in Vietnam like my father. Now, he served three years in Vietnam.
Gill: And somehow Al Gore, this has always stuck in my craw Ben. Al Gore goes over and serves a six month tour when everybody was serving one year tours. My dad served a year tour, sixty eight to sixty nine. Al Gore you know goes in, the only time he apparently held a rifle apparently was to get a photo with it, while it was apparently pointed at his head since he didn’t know anything about weapons. Al Gore serves in like a PR function and only serves six months.
Ben: Well, I can speak for myself I can’t speak for other veterans. I don’t consider that being a combat veteran.
Leahy: Yeah. Hey Ben. Tell us a little bit about your time in the military. When did you enter, what branch, and when did you leave and where were you?
Ben went on to describe that he was drafted in 1969 from the University of Tennessee and served until 1971 because he was released for good of service. He added that they did this to a lot of people because they were downsizing at that time. Ben also confirmed that he did not serve as a Hawk missile mechanic or trainer, as they also had good of service and was here domestically stateside the entire time. Leahy proceeded to quote Nathan Phillips recent proclamation in the media describing his service status as, “As a Vietnam veteran times, I served in the United States Marines from 1972 until 1976. That’s the year after Vietnam ended.”
Ben: Well, there’s several things wrong with that because we were already downsizing in ’71.
Gill: And the last US troops where there, they were pulled out in ’73 and the last combat troops were pretty much pulled out in ’72. So yeah, he served most of his career, if you call it that. I mean the guy went in as a private and came out as a private as we’ve pointed out. You’ve gotta try awfully hard to do that.
Ben: Well you know you might have been promoted to E1, E2 once you graduate from basic.
Leahy: Interesting. So what else was wrong with his statement in your view Ben?
Ben: Because he did not say a Vietnam veteran era. You do not say Vietnam era times because that misleads people thinking that you are a combat veteran.
Gill replied that it was Phillips intent to mislead people by using his ‘Vietnam era times’ statement and that he had also told other reporters that when he came home, he was called a baby killer and was spat upon. He added that Nathan Phillips was just ‘repeating’ what actually happened to folks who had to fly back in from San Francisco and California from Vietnam where they were treated with disrespect.
“God bless you and thank you so much for your service. We appreciate your service and appreciate you sharing your insights with us today,” concluded Gill.
Listen to the full segment here:
– – –
Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 am to the Tennessee Star Report with Steve Gill and Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Nathan Phillips” by ka_ya11. Background Photo “Vietnam War Memorial” by Bernt Rostad. CC BY 2.0.