Letter to the Editor: Reporter wrongly criticized candidate


Northern Virginia Daily reporter Joe Beck wrongly criticized Attorney General candidate Chuck Smith’s statement that he entered the U.S. Marine Corps at the “height” of the Vietnam War. In 1970, post-Tet offensive, not only did U.S. forces find themselves in increasingly dangerous and untenable positions in Vietnam, but the war against veterans at home had escalated.

Chuck Smith, the only minority candidate and the only Vietnam Veteran on the stage, entered the Marine Corps at the height of the U.S. antiwar movement, when the jungles of Vietnam were often more hospitable than the streets of San Francisco or Washington, D.C. As exhausted returning veterans, we were surrounded by hostile mobs, spat on, taunted as “baby killers” and even refused service in restaurants and bars.

Mr. Beck’s shameful singling out of this 26-year military service veteran reminds me of this demoralizing reception of those who served in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The Vietnam War and the U.S. military were at the zenith of public unpopularity when Chuck Smith, with eyes open, formally dedicated his life to the service of his country. Joe Beck and the Northern Virginia Daily owe an apology to Chuck Smith and all who were there to bear witness in Vietnam.

Col. William Hammack, USMC, retired, Front Royal, Virginia