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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 Greg E Allen on May 22, 2018 at 4:10pm

Thanks Mike for the reply. Yes I have read all the comments concerning the efforts being made. I was recently trying through a local veterans rep to find something out about this and was told I needed to apply for the deck logs of Conquest during that time period. Navigating that system was a nightmare and low and behold Conquest did not exist. So I now reside in Florida and I will make the contact that you suggested with political powers that be. 

Comment by Michael Austin on May 22, 2018 at 10:35am

Welcome, Greg. E. Allen,

Thanks for pointing out that those of us who came to the party during the Operation End Sweep phase do not have Indochina Service marked on the DD214.  To be honest, I have ignored this on my own DD214, perhaps because I assumed correctly or not that Indochina Service and VSM were the same.  Mine is also marked "no".

If you read the other comments, you'll know that we've tried for at least the past two years to have VSM for Op. End Sweep included in the National Defense Appropriate Act. Mike Ayars has graciously contacted his congressman.  Perhaps others in this group have done the same.

My Congressman and his staff have been vigourously pursuing the issue.  Last year was looking good until the chairman of the Senate committee killed the amendment because "every other little operation will want it (VSM) also".  Not a persuasive argument, but I guess when you have the veto power, persuasion is unnecessary.  However, with all due respect to the Senator, he may not be involved again this year.

The effort isn't dead.  There's a new Legislative Coordinator for Veterans Affairs in my congressman's offce who tells me they're giving it another try this year.  It's a bit early to put much emphasis on the the NDAA route, but I've been told other methods are being explored.

If you would like to be actively involved, and I sincerely hope you do, please call your congressman and senator and ask for their support.  Perhaps it would be efficient if they contact Congressman Garret Graves' office for the latest update.  The current LA for Veterans Affairs is Mr. Dustin Davidson. Dustin's email is dustin.davidson@mail.house.gov.  Congressman Graves' phone number is 202-225-3901.  It doesn't hurt for anyone to call or send Mr. Davidson a message in support of this, even if you're not in Congressman Graves state or district.  Any support only helps.

I'll contact you through this site's messaging system about some extra information.

Comment by Mike Ayars on May 21, 2018 at 10:08pm

Welcome aboard! I was part of Mobile Mine Countermeasures Command (MOMCOM), also based in Charleston. I have wondered why some of us got the Vietnam Service award but those on the support ships mostly did not.  

Comment by Greg E Allen on May 21, 2018 at 9:27pm

Just got approved for membership to the site. Found this page while searching commands. I was aboard Conquest T.A.D. from Exploit. Flew to Pearl with Mike Cosgrove and the rest of the bunch from Charleston. I have always questioned this issue too. More important to me than the ribbon is that no is checked in the box for having Indochina service on my DD214 considering that this country was involved there untill '75 we should at least get that. I have spoke with another shipmate from Conquest who also was T.A.D. from Charleston and he said indochina service is marked on his 214. There are several others in the minesweeper group on facebook too. Any way glad to be here.

Comment by Michael Austin on January 16, 2018 at 4:49pm

Nothing new as of mid-January, Commander.  I think we have a good sponsor in my congressman (Graves - LA), as well as a few others in the House and Senate he brought into the issue.  We got the amendment passed through the House this past year and would have made it all the way through the NDAA process but for one unexpected nay vote from a Senator who really should be on our side.

We try again through the NDAA 2019 process. I intend to do just as you suggested and keep up the pressure.  Last year my congressman's Legislative Assistant for Veterans Affairs worked very hard to guide the amendment through the House and much of the Senate.  Unfortunately he has taken another job, so I hope I can inspire his replacement to do as well as he.  It will help immensely if anyone who reads this would continue to put polite pressure on their own senators and congressmen.

I hope the guys you contacted thirty years ago have moved on to their greater reward (lobbying, I mean, not necessarily the other place) so their replacements get the chance to view our request favorably and without the blinders and prejudices of previous generations.

Comment by Robert Michael Cosgrove on January 16, 2018 at 3:36pm

Anything new?  I could show you all letters I wrote to my senators and reps 30 years ago.  Could also show the condescending replies..."Thank you so much for contacting me.  Blah, blah, blah."  Nothing has changed on that front.  Hope we keep pestering the powers that be.  We can put the ribbon on the uniform we get buried in.

Comment by Alton Ray Adams on December 7, 2017 at 12:56pm

Mike and Jeff, I've been a member of this site since I joined. I have recently retired and I'm just getting back to following this group. Everything I have read and followed is what the two of you are doing to help those who served during Operation End Sweep to get the recognation they deserved. What you said about McCain is true and has been showing his rino side more and more over the last few years. I wish you both well and a blessed Christmas and New Year and fair seas.

Comment by Michael Austin on December 7, 2017 at 1:12am

Jeff, thanks for the nice words and holiday wishes.  I also hope our shipmates and their families enjoy the holidays.

There isn't a single person in government worthy of worship:  never has been and never will be.  I  agree with you that although Senator McCain is worthy of great respect, specifically for the toll he has taken and for his many achievements.  Senator McCain has made some great decisions and has a net positive effect on our government, but on some issues, he screwed the pooch, and I'd say the End Sweep/VSM issue is one of them.  So criticisms of McCain can be justified, and your criticisms of him fall far short of disrespectful.  If anyone got their feelings hurt by your comments ... oh, well.

Mr. Adams, I sincerely hope you and the rest of the Blue Water bunch are successful in your fight with the VA.  It's been a long haul for many.

Comment by Alton Ray Adams on December 6, 2017 at 1:09pm

Thanks for the info. I’ll start hammering my state reps to get off their butts and support this bill.

Comment by Michael Austin on December 4, 2017 at 3:10pm

Hi Mr. Adams,

Sorry to hear about your problems with the VA, but none of us are surprised.  It's an old, sad story.

The Operation End Sweep/VSM issue discussed in this forum may not be much help with VA benefits, especially concerning Agent Orange.  Once upon a time, the VA considered the VSM as qualifying evidence for presumptive Agent Orange exposure.  That ended around 2002 when the VA decided a good way to fund outrageous executive bonuses would be to exclude Blue Water Navy sailors and set the criteria for AO presumption as "boots on the ground"  (the bonuses part is my cynical interpretation, but it's surely not far of the mark).  Hence, even if we are awarded VSM for participating in Operation End Sweep, it's not likely to help with VA claims, at least not now and not for AO.  But who knows?  Maybe the criteria for AO presumption will someday be reset to include VSM, but I'm not optimistic.

Better information about your situation (and mine) can be found with the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Association.  There are two Facebook groups, "Blue Water Navy Awareness" and "Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Association", that may be helpful.

Meanwhile, it would be helpful to both issues, Op. End Sweep/VSM and Blue Water Navy AO, if you call your congressman and senator and ask for their continued support.  Too late this fiscal year for congress to do anything about End Sweep, so we shall try again next fiscal year.  However, please call your US Senators and ask them to support  S.422 - Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2017.

 

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