Vietnam vet visits memorial ahead of 50th anniversary of the war | USA TODAY

Charles Nordan, a U.S. Army Vietnam veteran, visits the memorial in Washington to honor three of his friends ahead of the 50th anniversary of the war.

RELATED: Vietnam War veteran reflects on his visit to see Washington D.C. memorials

Americans will commemorate on Wednesday 50 years since U.S. combat troops left Vietnam. Vietnam War veterans represented nearly 10% of their generation, with nearly 50,000 Tennesseans answering the call to serve.

Those who were returning from tours of combat duty and those who served stateside were vilified by protesters and draft dodgers who fled to Canada. In a word, it was ugly for those who served when they arrived home.

Our objective in Vietnam was to stop the spread of communism. It began with "advisers" as early as the mid-1950s under President Dwight Eisenhower. Presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon each  escalated the war, which finally ended under President Gerald Ford in 1975.

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  1. My father & I took my Vietnam War veteran grandfather to Washington D.C. several years ago for the first time for him to see the Vietnam War Memorial Wall. He got drafted in the late 1960s & he got injured by shrapnel from a land mine (in addition to getting shot), so he got sent home & received a Purple Heart. However, 6 of his buddies didn’t make it back home, so before the trip he made a list of all of their names & where they were located on the wall. As he found each on the wall, he got very emotional knowing that he managed to come home (though injured), get married, have 3 sons, & live another 50 years, but 6 of his friends didn’t.

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