By Susanne Kappler, Fort Jackson LeaderJuly 28, 2011
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- The 2nd Battalion, 39th Infantry Regiment dedicated two mementos from the Vietnam War for public display July 21 in a ceremony at its battalion headquarters building.
The items, a Viet Cong SKS rifle and a regimental Viet Cong flag, are on permanent loan to the battalion from retired Col. Charles Currey. Currey, the father of Fort Jackson’s deputy commanding officer, Col. Craig Currey, obtained them during his tour in Vietnam as a member of the Military Advisory Command in 1969 and 1970.
Charles Currey said he recovered the items in the Vinh Binh province after a particularly heavy fight.
“The regimental flag meant a lot to me,” he said. “(The enemy) killed over 100 people there that night. That was a bad situation to be in.”
Lt. Col. Glen Blumhardt, commander of the 2-39th, said it was important to him to have historical items like those on display. He said he hopes it gives young Soldiers an appreciation of the 39th Infantry Regiment’s history, which encompasses three major conflicts " World War I, World War II and Vietnam.
“To know where you’re going, you have to understand where you’ve been,” Blumhardt said. “We’re just beyond appreciative that (Charles Currey) would trust us with these memories of places where he’s been at a time in his life that he’ll never forget. He’s allowed us to take care of (the items) for him, so we can put them on display.”
Blumhardt said he also feels a personal connection to the items and the history they represent.
“My father did a couple of tours in Vietnam and we have a very similar rifle in our household that he brought back,” he said.
He said that personal connection enhances his appreciation for the display.
“It represents memories, it represents people and faces that (the veterans) will never see again,” he said. “You understand the weight and the gravity of what someone’s given you when you perhaps have a little personal association with it. It makes it all the more special.”
For the Currey family, the decision to put the items on display was an easy one, Craig Currey said.
“The idea was (the display) would go to 2-39 where troops could see it. The only stipulation was to put it up where somebody can see the things, (that they) wouldn’t just get stuck in a filing cabinet,” he said. “We wouldn’t want something like this thrown in a drawer somewhere.”
Craig Currey, a former commander of the 2-39th, said the family was never interested in profiting from the items.
“We could have sold those things and made some money, but we really didn’t care,” he said. “It was better for troops to see the stuff.”