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Tet Offensive's 44th Anniversary: New exhibit honors Security Police heroics

  • Published
  • By Mike Joseph
  • JBSA-Lackland Public Affairs
The 37th Training Wing will honor Vietnam War Security Forces veterans Tuesday by commemorating the Tet Offensive's 44th anniversary.

The commemoration ceremony, followed by an unveiling of a new Southeast Asia exhibit at the U.S. Air Force Security Forces Museum, will conclude two days of events recognizing the contributions of Vietnam War Security Forces veterans.

The ceremony begins at 3 p.m. on the basic training drill pad across from the Security Forces Museum. The museum is located on the corner of Carswell Avenue and Femoyer Street on the basic training side of Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.

"Every anniversary of this battle is memorable," said Col. Gregory Reese, 37th Training Group commander. "A small number of Airmen prevented a tactical victory for the Viet Cong had they succeeded in overrunning two bases (Tan Son Nhut Air Base and Bien Hoa AB) and Military Assistance Command,Vietnam, headquarters.

"Since we are the home to Air Force Security Forces training and the Security Forces Museum, we should lead the Air Force in observances of this seminal event in the Air Force's legacy of valor," Reese said.

Capt. John Hart, 343rd Training Squadron and project officer for the event, said the Tet Offensive helped shape the Security Forces career field.

"What those Airmen went through in order to save and defend those bases created a mind set in our Security Forces culture today to teach our young Airmen those same values," Hart said.

He said it was important to remember and appreciate the Vietnam War veterans because the war's unpopularity influenced how they were treated when they returned home from serving.

"A lot of our (Vietnam) veterans, who willingly gave of themselves, were involved in a war in which they were not thanked for their service when they came home," said Hart. "Dealing with war itself is hard. But to deal with war, and then come home and not be appreciated for what you've done, I believe, could be even harder because you gave all of yourself.

"Like it has been said, 'All gave some, some gave all,'" he added.

A golf tournament and dinner Monday at the Gateway Hills golf course kick off the two-day event. At sunrise Tuesday, "The Wall That Heals," a traveling exhibit featuring a half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, opens with a three-day visit across from the museum. The exhibit will be open Tuesday through Thursday, sunrise to sundown.

More than 150 veterans have signed up for guided bus tours of JBSA-Lackland. Nearly 1,000 people, including Airmen and Security Forces technical training students, are expected to attend the ceremony.

New exhibit to honor Security Forces vets in Southeast Asia
The U.S. Air Force Security Forces Museum will unveil a new Southeast Asia exhibit Tuesday afternoon following the 37th Training Wing Tet Offensive commemoration ceremony.
The exhibit's opening was moved up nine months to coincide with the commemoration events, said Terri Bedore, curator and director of the USAF Security Forces Museum.

"It is part of our strategic plan to update exhibits as both museum exhibition standards and technology change in order to enrich our visitors' and Department of Defense students' experience," Bedore said.

The new exhibit tells the history of Security Police deployed in Southeast Asia from 1964-1973 with a special focus on the Tet Offensive, Operation SAFESIDE, K-9 sentry dogs, Security Police individuals, enemy forces and weapons, and bases, bunkers and towers.

It includes a full-size model of a time-period bunker, an audio recording of live radio chatter taken during the Tet Offensive, a captured weapons display, life-like uniformed figures, former military working dog, Wotan, and historical photographs.

Bedore said the 1967-1973 time period initiated active defense strategies in training and real-world situations. It also changed the focus of military dogs from sentry to scout and working dogs.

"These events changed the course of the Security Police/Security Forces career field, and led the way from being 'Peacekeepers' of the Cold War and into today's Air Force as 'Defenders,'" Bedore said.
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