Indiana man goes to Vietnam to remember cousin killed in 1968 Tet offensive
By CHRIS MORRIS | The Evening News and the Tribune, Jeffersonville, Ind. | Published: February 3, 2018
Ken Veron still remembers the day he heard about his cousin's death. He was not quite 6 years old, but the memory of seeing his mother crying and asking her what was the matter will never leave him.
It was that memory that called him to Vietnam this week.
Veron, a New Albany High School graduate and Corydon resident, gathered up as many members of his cousin's unit – Charlie Troop 3/4 Cav. 25th Infantry Division – as he could to travel to Vietnam and trace the battles they fought and the cities they traveled through. But the main reason was to memorialize the life, and death, of Murray Lee Veron, a New Albany resident who was killed in action in 1968 during the Tet Offensive.
The trip has been life-changing, Veron said by phone from Southeast Asia.
"We have been treated like royalty," he said during a stop while still in Vietnam. "It's an amazing country and the people are so nice."
It was much different 50 years ago, when U.S. soldiers bolstered the South Vietnamese Army as it battled troops from North Vietnam, which sought a unified, communist country. However, Veron said the members of his cousin's unit who accompanied him on the trip will go home this time with a much different opinion of the country than they did a half-century ago.
One encounter at a small cafe left the group in tears. Veron said two locals pulled up chairs to the table and began talking to the group. One of the men was a North Vietnamese soldier during the war. Fifty years ago, they would have been shooting at each other. In 2018, they couldn't stop hugging one another.
"There wasn't a dry eye in the group," Veron said. "It was the highlight of the trip."
They also visited battle sites in Saigon and Cambodia and along the way talked to several residents, including another cafe owner who, during the war, was a sniper for the North Vietnamese.
The group laid a flower arrangement in memory of Murray Lee near the site where he and others were killed, which is the main reason Veron organized the trip. His interest in his cousin, his cousin's death and the war is what led him to organize this trip of a lifetime.
But when he comes home Sunday, he will bring back much more than a few photos and trinkets. He said seeing how the group was treated, even by those who were once enemies, was an amazing experience.
"I have been digging at this for years," he said. "This trip has been incredible."
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