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Thirty Years Later

Saturday marks 30 years to the day since the last U.S. troops in Vietnam fled the country, and the U.S.-backed Saigon government surrendered.

In Craig Yamauchi's mind, the fight lives on.

"The only time the Vietnam War is ever going to end is when the last Vietnam Veteran dies."

"In our lives, the war is always there in some regard," said Alan Jenkins, who served in Vietnam in 1967 and 1968.

"It's such a major touchstone when you're 19, 20 years old and you have that experience."

Yamauchi left vietnam in April of 1972, after suffering an injury in a land mine explosion. He got wind of the fall of Saigon by watching the news.

"I felt really betrayed, i was very angry. It set an already angry situation upon its ear."

While the pain lingers on for veterans even today, Yamauchi is seeing some positive signs. He has a fond memory from two years ago, when a neighbor thanked him for his efforts in, what veterans refer to as "The Old Country."

The true test seems to come as today's soldiers return from their battles in Iraq. Yamauchi says his only regret is the cold shoulder he got from protesters during their homecoming.

"Everybody took it out on us, and that wasn't right."

"You back your troops when their lives are on the line-that's not negotiable," Jenkins said.

It's a lesson that veterans say proves we're looking back wisely, instead of for nostalgia's sake. Yamauchi hopes the effort he and other vientnam vets put forth wasn't in vain, and that it will be appreciated tomorrow, and every other day.


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