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Home » Author writes about Vietnam vets’ lives

Author writes about Vietnam vets’ lives

by Hari Majumder
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OCEAN CITY — U.S. Army veteran Ken Byerly wrote a book about the lives of Vietnam War veterans to give them the honor they didn’t get when they returned home, to set the record straight on some misconceptions about the war and for families to understand more about their loved ones.

Byerly will sign copies of his book, “Welcome Home: The Lucky Ones,” from noon to 2 p.m. on Black Friday, Nov. 25, at Sun Rose Words & Music, 756 Asbury Ave. in downtown Ocean City.

In the book, Byerly chronicles the tales of three soldiers and one airman who served during the Vietnam War, only to return home to find a bitterly divided nation.

Byerly takes readers through his life and the lives of his fellow soldiers — Steve Raho, an infantry officer from Virginia; and John Laughlin, who lives in Marmora — as well as Airman Mike Moran, an Ocean City resident who flew B-52 Bombers.

Byerly, 76, grew up in New York and spent his life “in many, many places,” but has lived on the island for the past 30 years.

Byerly attended Eastern Military Academy and is a graduate of Pennsylvania Military College in Chester. He spent two years in Germany and then 1971-72 in Vietnam. 

He was a captain with the 26th General Support Group in I Corps, supporting the 101st Airborne Divisions in Camp Evans and Camp Eagle based out of Phu Bai.

After his service, he spent about 36 years in the pharmaceutical industry, traveling a lot as a salesman and then serving as director of sales, overseeing a 450-person sales force and $3 billion in sales responsibility.

He and his wife of 54 years, Jean, have two sons, ages 54 and 48.

Offering perspectives of the service members he chronicles, Byerly explains that fellow Ocean City resident Moran was not stationed in Vietnam but rather over it, and thus looking at the war from a different perspective.  

He has dedicated the book to the families and the 58,281 casualties whose names are on the Vietnam Wall in Washington, D.C., who are gone but not forgotten.

“No blood and gore as some books on Vietnam have … just what we experienced and how it affected us and our families,” Byerly said.

Byerly said he was inspired to write the book after a conversation at the American Legion about “what happened to us as individuals but also in relation to our friends and family.”

Byerly said he wrote the book “for our families, first and foremost.”

“I try to explain why Dad or Grandpop sometimes acts the way he does and does not talk about the war,” Byerly said. “It was a different time and different place.”

Vietnam veterans “will tell you that a lot of times it’s difficult to talk about that war,” he said. “People don’t understand if they were not there.”

Another of his major goals in publishing the book was to dispel what he calls some major misconceptions about the war. Byerly said the beliefs that most of those who served in Vietnam were draftees and that most of those killed were draftees are both incorrect.

“I wanted to set the record straight to give the men and women who served there the honor and distinction they didn’t get when they came home,” Byerly said.

The author said Laughlin, a Purple Heart recipient, described his experience upon returning home as feeling invisible.

“We wanted our families to have a clear understanding of what actually occurred and give them some answers to questions they may have,” Byerly said. 

Source : OceanCitySentinel

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