'You earned them' - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

'You earned them'

Vietnam vets receive Buck Knives during special ceremony

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Posted: Monday, October 15, 2012 12:00 am

POST FALLS - When John Ivy returned to America in 1971 after a five-year tour with the Army in Vietnam, he had feces thrown at him.

He and fellow soldiers were cussed at. Some of the words yelled in his direction were so vulgar, that when asked what was said, he refused to repeat them.

"It was not a pleasant situation," the Sandpoint man said.

The 65-year-old much preferred the welcome he received Saturday during a program to honor Vietnam Purple Heart recipients at the American Legion in Post Falls.

He and 11 others were presented with Buck Knives during a gathering of the Vietnam Veterans of America.

"It's really a terrific thing. We put a lot on the line and it's kind of nice to have somebody say thank you," Ivy said. "Because when I got back from 'Nam, nobody said thank you."

Time to rectify that, said Graham Crutchfield of Hayden, veteran and organizer of the knife program.

"I'm sorry it took so long," he said.

Crutchfield has led fundraising drives to purchase calling cards for active military overseas and for a DAV van. He's organized meetings to clear up confusion over military medical benefits. The presentation of Buck Knives to vets is close to his heart.

The knives, each engraved with the recipient's military branch, are purchased from Buck Knives and made at the Buck factory in Post Falls.

They can't be bought for any price, Crutchfield said. They can't be sold.

"Nobody get a knife who didn't earn it," he said.

The Vietnam vets who came together Saturday definitely did, Crutchfield added.

"There's no amount of money that can thank you," he said during a 45-minute program.

The knives, each in a commemorative sheath, are presented to those in the National Guard, the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and posthumously to family members. They are passed down from father to son.

"That's what these mean," Crutchfield said.

John Doherty appreciated the gift and commendations on Saturday. The Eastport man served six years with the Marine Corps, include two in Vietnam.

"Nobody welcomed us home when we came. At this stage in my life, this is a very nice remembrance and thank you," the 63-year-old said.

Doherty said when he returned from his first one-year tour in September 1968, "it was terrible."

"I was actually accosted in the San Francisco international airport wearing a Marine Corps uniform," he said.

His military service in Vietnam hurt when he applied for jobs.

"You kind of hid you were a veteran, especially a Marine veteran in Vietnam," he said. "They thought we were drug-crazed fools, I guess."

But Doherty refused to be bitter and today, appreciates the way America recognizes those serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"I'm very proud of these young men and women. They've got a marvelous job, and America has done a wonderful job recognizing them."

Dave Blanton of Priest River, who served with the Marines from August 1967 to July 1969 in Vietnam, was thankful for the knife and praise.

"It's a total thrill. This is something you don't expect. Some people look at it as a little thing but this is a very, very big thing, that somebody remembers us," he said.

When Blanton returned to the U.S., he was greeted by hostile war protesters.

"The biggest insult to me was, they came on the airplane and told us to change out of our uniforms before we left the base," he said. "What have we been fighting for? People didn't agree with the war, but it still was our job. We were just doing what we were supposed to."

As he held the knife in his hands Saturday, Blanton smiled.

"Something like this now, it's awesome," he said.

He plans to pass the knife on to his son, Michael, who is serving with the Army.

"He'll treasure it as much as I do."

Russ Fankell, VVA spokesman, said the Vietnam veterans deserve respect for serving their country. They didn't get it when they should have, he added, but today, they will.

"Some of these guys have never been thanked," he said. "It's about time."

Crutchfield said he is occasionally asked if one of the knives can be purchased. He laughed as he recounted his usual response.

"The price is a tour in Iraq or Afghanistan," he says. "Call me when you get back."

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  • BoxcarBill posted at 8:13 pm on Wed, Oct 17, 2012.

    BoxcarBill Posts: 1074

    God and country, and blind faith in both.

  • cda_boy posted at 7:49 am on Wed, Oct 17, 2012.

    cda_boy Posts: 30

    Wow, there was no profanity, no slander just an opinion on a person commenting on this post and I am censored. The press at its finest, blocking my first amendment rights. I better not tell them drivy, that I am prepared for the worst because they'll assume that I'm expressing my second amendment rights and the current watchdog and his cronies in office will hunt me down and take that right away also.

    Again, thank you gentlemen (and women) for your service and God bless. (oops, better remove that comments, separation of church and press, you know)

  • drivy19a posted at 6:36 am on Wed, Oct 17, 2012.

    drivy19a Posts: 180

    On second thought, boxcarbill, you may be none of the persuasions mentioned, being instead nothing more than a waste-of-space OR, mathematically, simply a "zero".....

  • drivy19a posted at 5:39 am on Wed, Oct 17, 2012.

    drivy19a Posts: 180

    My very best regards to you and yours, especially your son. I know that he will serve well and I hope that he is never caught in "harm's way".

    As to your comment, "Cherish that freedom because if something ever happenes here on US soil, you would not be welcome in my fox hole.", That's a definite "ditto" from my perspective as well. In addition, I don't know what, if any, preparations you have made just in case of some scenario, as you suggested, should occur on US soil, BUT, I would offer this maxim, which you may well be aware of:

    "When disaster strikes, the time to prepare HAS passed!"

    Take care and my best to you and your family...

  • drivy19a posted at 5:30 am on Wed, Oct 17, 2012.

    drivy19a Posts: 180

    Based on your comments, as well as the tone, I only have one question to ask you - Have you ALWAYS been a marxist or is this a recent conversion???

    Of course, there IS one other possibility and that is a "socialist". Of course either would make you excellent surrogate/minion fodder for the likes of obama and gang....

  • BoxcarBill posted at 10:14 pm on Tue, Oct 16, 2012.

    BoxcarBill Posts: 1074

    Our freedoms are systematically being destroyed by our own government's desire to do the will of those who own it.
    It's becoming too late for the majority of Americans to wake up, I believe we are facing a very dim future.
    The founding fathers knew very well our biggest threat would come from within.

  • BoxcarBill posted at 1:41 pm on Tue, Oct 16, 2012.

    BoxcarBill Posts: 1074

    Thou shalt not think.
    These kids that enlist with your courageous, zombie mindset only to later discover that WE are indeed the enemy are committing suicide in record numbers. They need to be exposed to opposing points of view, they need to be better informed in order to make a wise decision.

    Yes, your type are needed, but only when used for good.
    Our military has been hijacked to further our corrupt, corporatist, imperialist, Israel serving agenda, but I'm sure those so unevenly filled with courage lack in the area that will enable them to ever grasp this.

  • drivy19a posted at 7:07 am on Tue, Oct 16, 2012.

    drivy19a Posts: 180

    This may very well come as a surprise to you but I'm glad you didn't serve. The military is no place for someone who is unwilling to "serve faithfully" and by your NOT serving, and possibly having to go to war, OTHER people's lives were saved by virtue of your NOT being there supposedly fulfilling YOUR obligation to our country by honorably doing "your duty" as a member of the armed forces.

    You and your ilk throw "politics" into the melee in an attempt to "justify" your previous activities, which is your choice. For myself, being in the military, I deemed "service" to our country as one of the most personal of choices one can make for one's own country. It's a matter of personal honor and personal integrity to be willing to put one's life on the line should one's country ask. I realize that ALL of this is no doubt vastly outside your ability to comprehend, much less appreciate, which is fine with me.

    The military is an "employer", not so different from any other job except the "stakes" are higher and other people's lives are dependent on each doing their "duty", faithfully and to the greatest extent possible. IF one can't handle the job, it's best for ALL that he be "released", OR, like in your case, to NEVER get involved. Faulting THOSE who choose to serve faithfully, a concept OBVIOUSLY alien to someone like yourself, is decidedly misplaced. WE were trained to do what may at times be a very life-threatening job, but it was a job WE swore to do faithfully. IF you can't handle something THAT intense, all politics aside, then it's just as well you "stayed out".

    BUT, if you're any type of "decent" individual, despite what your personal convictions were, and most likely STILL are, you should at least be man enough to acknowledge the courage of those who would go where you lacked the courage to go, for whatever personal reasons you had.

    The military willingly puts their own lives on the line to preserve the traditions of same and to, whenever necessary, insure that the "right" to personal determination is protected. IF, for no other reason, you should at least say "Thanks" to them for the jobs they've chosen, as "free" individuals, to do in service to, not only our country, but to everyone who benefits from the freedoms that makes our country stand out among the other countries of the world.

    In OTHER countries, you wouldn't have the "choice" to NOT serve....

  • BoxcarBill posted at 10:51 pm on Mon, Oct 15, 2012.

    BoxcarBill Posts: 1074

    Those who refuse to be murderous pawns of a corrupt, for profit, lobbyist bought government are called cowards by the very proud fools who enable said government.
    I protested the Vietnam war, and Daniel Ellsberg was one of the best ever produced from our ranks.

  • IDmtnman posted at 6:15 pm on Mon, Oct 15, 2012.

    IDmtnman Posts: 55

    Some gave all....all gave some....a buck knife in the hand beats a facefull of feces any day of the week. I don't think it's a very even trade though.

  • drivy19a posted at 6:42 am on Mon, Oct 15, 2012.

    drivy19a Posts: 180

    Personally, I didn't begrudge those that "fled" to Canada, or parts unknown, OR got draft deferments because of being students, or just being "unacceptable" for military service to avoid going to war, after all, as Eastwood so aptly noted, "a man has got to know his limitations". It's better that they "took off" and stayed out of a man's "world".

    HOWEVER, there is one singular individual that I will ALWAYS have contempt for as relating to "her" activities during that period. That one person is Jane Fonda! When she went to North Vietnam and did the photo ops and anti-war propaganda spots for the Communist North Vietnamese against the war, that put her in my "rogues gallery" permanently. It's been over 40 years since that time, and she's STILL on that list....

  • voxpop posted at 5:37 am on Mon, Oct 15, 2012.

    voxpop Posts: 738

    Been there, done that - except for the purple heart. Just dumb luck really. The difference back then was that you expected it when you returned. The anger was all around when you left. Having a son flying for the Navy today makes me grateful that it's no longer the case. But I understood back then. What I didn't understand, and will never forgive, are those who ran to Canada, as cowards. That goes doubly for those who now assume they have the right to participate in govt. Isn't that so Ron.

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