Soldiers from 4th Battalion, 39th Infantry Regiment, listen intently to veterans who previously served in the unit, Aug. 25. The veterans answered questions and gave advice on how to have a successful career. (Photo by Nathan Clinebelle)

Vets to the 'future:' Vietnam veterans speak to Soldiers

By Robert Timmons, Fort Jackson Public Affairs

Some Soldiers who graduated Aug. 30, volunteered for a different sort of mission, Aug. 25.

That mission was to learn more about military service from those who had gone before. Groups of Soldiers, just days shy of graduation, gathered around to hear motivational chats from Vietnam veterans.

The experiences the Soldiers went through during Basic Combat Training, and those they will experience during the careers, aren’t anything new, said 4th Battalion, 39th Infantry Regiment commander, Lt. Col. Jonathan Baker.

“It gives them a sense of belonging and a sense of appreciation for what they have experienced that is really unique to service in the military,” he said.

Ed Hogue, a veteran who served in Vietnam with the 4-39th, said he and other veterans enjoy coming out and talking to the Soldiers.

“It was a lot different from when I was in,” he said. “Young Soldiers today are our future. These young people here are asking every kind of question there is. What’s it like to go to your new unit? What should I be looking forward to … Are you proud to be a veteran.”

“I tell them the truth. The Army is not made for everybody,” he added. “Make the most of it. When you get to your unit, get in there, get educated, and learn your job progression.”

Hogue, who also was drill sergeant, shared a bit of wisdom he received from his battalion commander years ago. He told me “three things. Take care of your young Soldiers, take care of your young officers and the mission will take care of itself,” Hogue said.

He added it gives him joy if he “can answer their questions and put them on the right path.”