These Army soldiers entered the most rural parts of Vietnam to provide medical care, rebuild roads and support refugees.
They made up less than 1 percent of the Americans in country (450 of 350,000), but the unique mission of Civil Affairs soldiers left a mighty footprint throughout South Vietnam.
On Friday, 44 veterans traveled from across the country to unveil a memorial stone at Fort Bragg, forever remembering their unique service during Vietnam. The group spent the past two years raising money for its stone at the U.S. Army Special Operations Command Memorial Complex.
Harold Youmans, a first lieutenant during Vietnam, helped organize the group of veterans to attend the ceremony.
"A lot of these guys came back when soldiers were being spit on and refused service at bars," he said. "What we’ve been trying to do is instill in them that they do have the respect from the active Army."
Vietnam was one of the test beds that proved the potential of Civil Affairs. Their mission was pacification, easing support away from the communist insurgency and toward democracy.
At the height of the war in the summer of 1968, Civil Affairs soldiers were providing medical and dental care and supporting refugees.
But Youmans and his soldiers also were exposed to the violence of war.
He said he remembered falling asleep to the gentle rumblings of gunfire. Sometimes it was…