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Army vet, three buddies revisit areas where they served and fought in Vietnam in 1966
Veterans (from left) Loyd Jones, Jerry Elsenheimer, Paul Scott and Mike Mills stand by a fish pond in Vietnam in April. In 1966, Operation Attleboro, one of the biggest engagements of the war, was fought there.
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By RUSTY DENNEN
Paul T. Scott never thought he'd want to revisit the place where he spent one of the most dangerous years of his life.
Not until the 68-year-old Stafford County attorney went to his Army battalion reunion last year in Colorado Springs.
Other "Wolfhounds" of the 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment of the 25th Infantry Division had returned to Vietnam to see the places they had been, and fought over, in 1966.
"Several of the guys had done it and encouraged me and some others to make the trip," Scott said in a recent interview.
Scott, a lieutenant and leader of a medical platoon in Vietnam, joined Mike Mills, a former sergeant with Headquarters Company from Illinois; Jerry Elsenheimer, an infantry rifle platoon leader from Michigan; and Loyd Jones, an infantry rifle platoon leader from Texas, for the two-week trip in April.
"I had mixed feelings, and it was a long trip," Scott said.
Another veteran, Norm Gill, who had made several return trips and served with Scott in Vietnam, helped them get started. A travel agency put the men in touch with a Chinese lawyer in Hanoi who runs a travel agency there and in Chicago, Scott said. Indochina Voyages made the arrangements.
They stayed in four- and five-star hotels along the way. The itinerary included Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City), formerly a hub for U.S. forces, in addition to a former base camp, battlefields, several villages and a few tourist spots.
Scott, Mills, Elsenheimer and Jones had served in locations from Saigon to the Cambodian border.
Scott's first trip to Southeast Asia, as a soldier, began in 1965.
That year, he graduated from the University of Virginia, where he was in the Reserve Officer Training Corps. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Army Medical Service Corps.
His father, David William Scott, was a longtime Fredericksburg-area physician. His mother, Margaret, was a nurse. His brother, David William Scott III, was in medical school at the time.
War-related tourism has become something of a cottage industry as former American service members return to places where they once served, such as Normandy, Pearl Harbor, Korea and Vietnam.
Dozens of travel agencies offer such trips. Many are tailored to specific sites and include transportation, lodging, interpreters and guides.
Paul Scott of Stafford County and three other Vietnam veterans booked their two-week tour through Indochina Voyages (indochina
U.S. combat operations in Vietnam began 50 years ago, in January 1962, with Operation Chopper. Army helicopters flew 1,000 South Vietnamese soldiers to attack a Vietcong jungle stronghold near Saigon.
The Department of Defense kicked off its anniversary observance at this year's Memorial Day ceremony at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington. President Obama signed a proclamation that the official observance--with events around the country--would last through Nov. 11, 2025.
For example, the Transportation Corps, in conjunction with the U.S. Army Quartermaster and Women's museums at Fort Lee hosted a 50th anniversary event on Friday.