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ARLINGTON, Va. — A Vietnam war veteran has begun a grass-roots effort to convince military veterans to once again don their old dog tags show support for U.S. troops fighting in Iraq.

Walter Haan, a military-history book publisher and a former soldier, is asking veterans of conflicts dating back to World War II to dig out their dog tags and put them on, wearing the identification whenever they go out in public, whether at work or at play.

But instead of wearing the dog tags underneath their clothing, as prescribed by U.S. military regulations, Haan said he wants veterans to keep the identifying metal tags outside their clothing, where people can see them.

“It does not matter whether a person supports the war,” Haan said in a Thursday statement announcing his campaign. “Whether you believe in the president’s decision to attack Iraq or not, our soldiers, sailors, and airmen and Marines are prepared to give up their lives.”

Haan said he retains bitter memories of his return from Vietnam in December 1966, in particular an episode that occurred when he was walking down the aisle of a train taking him back home, dressed in his Army uniform.

“A gentleman in a suit asked [me] how many babies [I] had killed,” Haan said. “That was what was wrong during the Vietnam War. Our fighting men and women didn’t have the respect of the country. … We should not repeat that mistake.”

Haan, whose Southfarm Press military history publishing company is based in Middletown, Conn., plans to publish photos of veterans wearing their dog tags on his Web site, www.war-books.com. He pledged to try to show every photo he receives “at least for a few days,” depending on the number that come in.

For more information, go to www.war-books.com. Black and white or color photos can also be mailed to P.O. Box 1296, Middletown, CT 06457. Make sure your dog tags are clearly visible, and include your name, current address, phone number, dates of service, where you served, and rank on discharge.

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