War letters returned to family of soldier killed in Vietnam - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

War letters returned to family of soldier killed in Vietnam

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Sgt. Steve Flaherty Sgt. Steve Flaherty
COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

For (the) past couple of weeks we really have been hit hard. This is the fiercest fight I have ever been in.

22 year old Sgt. Steve Flaherty from Irmo was in the fight of his life during the Vietnam War and he knew it. These are excerpts from four letters he wrote that were lost in Vietnam.  They were written to his mother, a woman named Betty, and a woman named Mrs. Wyatt, who his believed to be a neighbor or family friend.

Flaherty's letters were returned to his family last summer.

I never been so scared in my life but watching my friends dying was more overpowering than my fear.

If Dad calls, tell him I (got) too close to being dead but I'm O.K. I was real lucky.

Sgt. Flaherty died March 25, 1969. Those lost letters depict what he saw during the height of the war.

"It was an extremely difficult war because there were no front lines," said Allen Roberson with the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum. "You didn't have an army facing another army. You had American troops working with South Vietnamese troops and they were in an area that was extremely rural and surrounded by farmers and villages that at nighttime became the enemy - the Viet Cong."

Allen Roberson is the executive director of the SC Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum. He says the letters accurately express the horrors of the hidden hills and valleys:

Nothing seems to go well for us but we'll take that ridge line.

The exhaustion of fighting an relentless enemy:

These N.V.A soldiers fought until they died and one even booby trapped himself and when we approached him, he blew himself and took 2 of our men with him.

Homesickness:

Thank you very much for the warm and encouraging letter. I really needed some comfort and strong help from someone in (the) past week.

And understanding his mission.

This war is (a) dirty and cruel war but I'm sure people will understand the purpose of this war even though(t) many of us might not agree.

"He's obviously frightened but feels like he's doing his duty for his country," said Roberson.

The SC Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum houses thousands of artifacts from all wars. There will be a special public unveiling of sgt. Flaherty's letters at the museum on March 25th, exactly 44 years after his death.

The letters will later become part of a larger Vietnam War exhibit to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the war.

Even though the conflicts have changed, the tactics of war have changed, the sentiments are still the same, including Revolutionary War letters, Civil War letters and Afghanistan e-mails.

"These are soldiers that are talking out loud but also talking - writing to loved ones but talking to themselves too about why they're there," said Roberson. "What they're trying to do, why they feel they need to be there and sort of soul searching about it."

We are very tired and weary and beat. There is no sight of pulling out of this area near Asheau but we'll stay until we get the revenge or wipe them out. That's the Airborne spirit.

It was a war the ultimately took his life but he fought courageously until the end.

We dragged more bodies of dead and wounded than I can ever want to forget.

I (have) never been so scared in my life.

Well, I better close for now before we go in again to take that hill. Love, Steve.

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