Morris County Creates Database to Honor Vietnam War Veterans

Morris County, with the help of local historians, created an online database to commemorate local veterans who served in Vietnam approximately 50 years ago.

The database, “Welcome Home: Morris County’s Vietnam Vets,” was launched on Tuesday and features a collection of photos, historical accounts and other facts about the Vietnam War. It also encourages veterans and their families to submit biographical information for inclusion on the ever-expanding website.

The site’s launch date coincides with National Vietnam War Veterans Day, which marks the departure of the last American combat troops from Vietnam on March 29, 1973.

The database is the latest project of the Morris County Veterans Compendium, a series of online works compiled by the Office of Planning and Preservation to document the military service of county residents throughout history. In recent years, the office has created websites for Morris County residents who served in World War II, the Spanish–American War, and the Philippine–American War, as well as a dedicated site for men of color in the county that were part of the Civil War.

The compendium was created in 2009 after a World War II veteran expressed concern that his contributions and those of his fellow soldiers would be lost to history, said cultural and historical resource specialist Jan Williams. of Morris County. Since then, the county has worked hard to compile a list of local veterans who served in all conflicts.

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The Vietnam War database contains over 300 pages of information, the majority of which consists of photos and biographies of soldiers sorted alphabetically by last name. He also mentions the mistreatment many veterans experienced from the public upon returning home – a sentiment seemingly at odds with how they acted in Vietnam.

“In communicating with Vietnam veterans, I was surprised to learn from many that our American soldiers were busy ‘winning hearts and minds’ in Vietnam long before we became aware of the phrase,” said Williams. “They cared for orphans, villagers and worked tirelessly to make Vietnam a better place. Although veterans mentioned lingering bitterness about how they were treated upon their return, they chose to focus on the honorable service they gave during (the war).”

The first name on the list of hundreds of local veterans is Charles R. Abella, of Mount Olive, who served in the United States Air Force.

Also included is Christopher W. Anderson of Mount Arlington who served in the United States Navy USS Spartanburg County LST-1192 as a Navy firefighter. Anderson served in the final year of the war, until the fall of Saigon, according to the website.

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Photos and information about James Baccaro Sr. were submitted to the effort by his widow Marlene Baccaro. Upon returning from Vietnam in 1967, “Jim” used the GI Bill and earned an associate’s degree from Union College, a bachelor’s degree from Seton Hall University, and a master’s degree from Farleigh Dickinson University. In 1971, he began a 30-year career with Xerox Corporation. He died after a “valiant battle with cancer and heart disease associated with Agent Orange exposure,” according to the website.

Morris County is seeking more names to add to the Vietnam database and invites residents to submit their municipality, branch of service, battles or incidents they have participated in and awards or citations issued, as well as any pictures available.

Any Vietnam veteran who was born in Morris County, has been a resident for at least 10 years, or has retired and left the state can be recognized. Families of fallen service members are also invited to share the stories of their loved ones.

All information can be sent to Jan Williams at jwilliams@co.morris.nj.us.