Webb: Forgotten no more…

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Put aside your politics for the next few minutes and please do the same as you comment.

The story of how I came to write this article after accompanying Vice President Pence to Joint Base Hickam, Pearl Harbor took hold in 1994 but began many years earlier.  

My father, Joe, was a Vietnam veteran who did two tours in Vietnam at an age when he should have been going on dates. More than 30 years later he got heavily involved in raising money for the veterans memorials as many in America were reconciling their guilty consciences over the horrible treatment of those who served, willingly or not. Dad was involved with the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) and began to attend their annual conventions. As a son and a broadcaster I saw an opportunity to be with my dad and learn more about his experience. I took my show there, I sat and listened and because I was Joe’s son some veterans shared more than I thought they would. It was rough at times. 

{mosads}In 1998, I was the host of “USA at Nite” on the USA radio network. Tom Coury, the national vice president of the VVA, went to receive MIA remains in Vietnam. After receiving the remains Tom called me from the minister’s Vietnam office and we told America some of her boys were coming home. My reaction shocked me and brought me to understanding. I couldn’t choke back the tears, I simply felt it. 

On the morning of July 30, 2018, I exchanged texts with a friend in D.C. Vice President Pence was going to Honolulu to lead the “carry ceremony” as 55 American flag-draped caskets and one partial dog tag would return to American soil. The question was asked and before it was finished I answered “yes.” Now all I had to do was execute a travel plan to get to Honolulu by Tuesday evening. 

My radio producers Greg, Anthony and Edwin are used to my sudden changes in schedule. Kudos to them for executing with the vice president’s team. I joined him in Honolulu Wednesday. My dad died in 2004. I wished he would have lived to know this day. I was keeping a promise I made to him and many others that I would never forget and if able, I would do my part.

The “carry ceremony” has to be seen to even come close to being described. I urge everyone to take the time to watch it wherever it’s available, even through the lens of my smartphone on my Facebook page.

It was agreed that I would have an exclusive radio interview with Vice President Pence for SiriusXM Patriot on base after the ceremony. Subscribers can still listen to my interview on SiriusXM spotlight. I prepared. I sorted facts for reference. After all this, he is the vice president. Then I started by telling him I had not the words. Probably not the best way start to an interview. He understood. 

Pence explained the process that follows as our forensic specialists work to identify the remains. It will take time. Some may even be from other forces like Australia’s. If so, as it has the potential to do for Americans, some form of closure can occur.

I asked him about the relevance to the ongoing engagement with North Korea diplomatically and using all instruments of national power when needed as the president stated. He stated that this is a positive step. 

We as a nation are in undefined territory with North Korea. The world is watching. It is fair to posit that this will not be a smooth path forward. The leaders of North and South Korea will meet soon for a third time. More steps taken.

A lot can be said about our nation by the promises we keep to those who wear our cloth. We have not always been expeditious. We have not held full the promise to leave no one behind. Sometimes we may not be able to due to circumstances. But in the end we must do our best to accomplish the final mission for our war fighters and lay them to rest. 

I would be lax in my duties if I did not report that Pence, as always, did a troop engagement in one of the hangars. He didn’t just say hello, he interacted. After all, he and his wife Karen are Marine parents. On his way to Air Force 2 he told me that it is my turn to speak with the men and women who executed a flawless ceremony. Mr. Vice President, I followed through, sir. They are a great representation of the men and women who wear the cloth of our nation. 

Pence said “Today, they are known only to God” in his remarks. The MIAs of any conflict are known to their families by name and loss. Known or unknown to the nation, they can no longer be forgotten.

Webb is host of “The David Webb Show” on SiriusXM Patriot 125, a Fox News contributor and a frequent television commentator. His column appears twice a month in The Hill.

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