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Operation End Sweep

On 27 January 1973, American and North Vietnamese officials signed a protocol to the Paris agreement that called for the United States to neutralize the mines that the Navy had dropped in North Vietnam's coastal and inland waterways.

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Comment by Michael Austin on October 16, 2017 at 4:57pm

No need to apologize, Jeff.  The amendment can't be found in any current drafts, so it's quite reasonable to conclude it's gone and forgotten.  We must simply wait and see if Senator McCain decides to drop his resistance or if a bit of legislative magic can be found to work around it.  

Comment by Michael Austin on October 16, 2017 at 4:20pm

Jeff, thanks for the message and support. I just talked to Congressman Graves' office, and it seems House Amendment 566 isn't dead yet, but surely we have no help from the Senate. I'm stunned to learn the main roadblock is from Senator McCain who, unfortunately for this matter, is the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. With his background I cannot imagine why he would oppose something like this. I’m inclined to speculate that someone in his office has led him astray, for whatever reason. I called Senator McCain’s office appealing for support, but I have no reply.

There’s a bit of good news. The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Congressman Mac Thornberry of Texas, seems to be firmly on our side. He may be able to get the amendment included, depending upon how much effort the other side wants to put into opposing it. Meanwhile, Congressman Graves’ office hasn’t abandoned us.

Bottom line is that although we may not have good reason to expect victory, neither should we admit defeat until the final version of the bill is presented to the Oval Office.

Comment by Michael Austin on October 4, 2017 at 4:07pm
Jeff Purits — I agree. I’ll try to find out who is the Senate holdout. Meanwhile, I’d like to hear from anyone in this forum who might disagree with extending eligibility for the Vietnam Service Medal to sailors and marines who joined the party only during the post-March 23rd segment of Operation End Sweep. If there are such folks, would you mind saying why you disagree?
Comment by Michael Austin on October 4, 2017 at 2:11pm

News about VSM for Endsweep veterans.  The amendment passed the House, but someone in the Senate objected, so it isn't in the Senate version of NDAA. 

The Senate opponent claims "the slippery slope" if VSM is awarded to Endsweep participants, meaning he (or perhaps she) fears every ten-cent operation from March 23, 1973 to the distant future would demand VSM eligibility.  However, with one righteous exception -- Mayaguez Incident, already a companion amendment in NDAA 2018 -- no other operation could meet other requirements for VSM.   So even if the slope was soaked in 5W30, there's nothing left to slip down it.

Not yet the end of the story, but someone in the Senate is throwing up pointless interference.

Comment by Michael Austin on July 28, 2017 at 9:09pm
Mike Ayer, I just learned that your guy (Congressman LoBiondo) recently payed a call on my guy (Congressman Graves) in support of VSM for Op. End Sweep. Looks like your email prompted an active response. Once again, THANKS!
Comment by Michael Austin on July 21, 2017 at 10:52pm

Mike Ayars, thanks for writing to your congressman.  It truly helps.  

Comment by Michael Austin on July 21, 2017 at 10:46pm

Mark Chambers, the Vietnam Campaign Medal (green and white) was granted by the Republic of Vietnam but was considered an authorized foreign medal by the USN.  Might be difficult for the Republic of Vietnam to retroactively award the medal to those folks who might have missed out.

Comment by Michael Austin on July 21, 2017 at 10:43pm

Mark Chambers, the NDAA amendment  is meant to allow sailors who hadn't been awarded VSM but participated in Operation End Sweep the opportunity to apply for the medal.  DoD ended eligibility for VSM on 28 March 1973, but of course all the fun and games in Vietnam didn't end immediately, as Operation End Sweep demonstrates.   Actually the minesweeping operation began a bit earlier than the official cut-off date and carried on until mid-July.  The NDAA amendment is aimed at those folks who kinda got swept aside in the hurry put any mention of the Vietnam War out of the public consciousness.

I have copies of some correspondence showing that Admiral McCauley did indeed asked for an award that would be specific to Operation End Sweep, but he was turned down, ultimately by SecNav.  In my earlier comment I mentioned the Navy Expeditionary Medal or a Meritorious Unit Commendation because that was some feedback I got from the Congressman's office about possible awards for Op. End Sweep.  As it stands, the current amendment addresses only the extended eligibility for VSM.

Comment by Mike Ayars on July 21, 2017 at 8:21pm

I wrote my congressman:

Representative LoBiondo:
I urge you to support section 566 of HR2810. I am a veteran of Operation End Sweep. This operation cleared the mines the US laid in a number of North Vietnamese ports. It has come to my attention that members of the ships that participated in the operation did not receive this award. I was part of the command group and I was awarded the VSM, but many others were not and should have been. It was a difficult task involving long hours of dangerous work from February 1973 through July 30, 1973.  

The Secretary of the military department concerned shall, upon the application of an individual who is a veteran who participated in Operation End Sweep, award that individual the Vietnam Service Medal, notwithstanding any otherwise applicable requirements for the award of that medal.

I would be happy to discuss this if needed. That you for your strong support of us veterans. 
Comment by Mike Ayars on July 21, 2017 at 8:08pm

Mark, you beat me to the punch. I pulled out my DD214 and sure enough, I have the VSM listed. It did not list the additional bronze star, but the medal I have has it. I agree those who participated in End Sweep should have it. It may be related to the end of our tax-free combat zone status (July 1, 1973). I do remember that the tax-free status was reinstated after I got out, and I got a small tax credit for it. 


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