Clarence "Golde" Golden and Dennis Summerfield speak to students at Desert Wind Middle School. Submitted photo

May 5, two local Vietnam veterans took time out of their day to visit the Desert Wind Blended Learning class to discuss their time serving in the military and in the Vietnam War.

Clarence “Golde” Golden and Dennis Summerfield, both of Maricopa, spent two hours talking to the 71 students in DWMS Blended Learning about the war, about their experiences, and what their jobs were in the war. The students were a captive audience as they spoke of what they encountered, who they met while in Vietnam, their jobs, and how they felt about the war.

“I feel like I got a better idea of the Vietnam War listening to their stories,” said eighth grader Parker H.

“It was interesting knowing how they lived and what they did each day in Vietnam,” explained Matt W.

Students learned about Golde running the rivers in South Vietnam on a 72-foot assault craft with 10,000 gallons of jet fuel, how he slept on a cot with a 2-inch thick mattress and once woke up to a rat nestled up on his chest.

Students also learned about Dennis’ time in the Navy on a ship in the Gulf of Tonkin in North Vietnam as an electrician supporting ground troops and detonating floating mines while sometimes out at sea for 30 days at a time. This was the second time that Golde came and spoke with the class, and this was the first time that Dennis had visited.

Submitted photo
Submitted photo

“Our students are developing a great relationship with some of our local veterans, when they see these gentlemen out in the city it is nice to hear that our students will go up to them and thank them and tell their parents about what they learned in class from these men,” said Shannon Hull, Blended Learning instructor

During the questioning time of the visit, students were mostly concerned about how they felt during the war, what their day was like, what food did they eat, what they missed the most.  But the most common questions were about how these men were treated when they got back from Vietnam.

Golde said, “I’ve gotten more respect from you kids, your parents and the city of Maricopa than I’ve ever gotten anywhere in the U.S.” after telling stories of the disrespect and insults he received when he got back from Vietnam.

When asked what kids can do now, Dennis said to “never stop honoring our fallen soldiers,” Golde reminded us of POWs, “those men that were never released and still have not been found.” But the most important thing students need to do is to “give and show respect for our flag and for each other.”

“We are grateful to the Maricopa chapter of the VFW for giving us their time, by coming in and talking to our students,” Hull said. “It helps the students better understand what the war was really like and how to try to understand the political and social ramifications of war on today’s society.”

“I appreciate the brave souls that you are, and I thank you for speaking with us today.  I now have a better understanding of the world we live in,” said eighth grade student Savannah S.

Anyone interested in the local VFW chapter please contact Commander Mike Kemery and visit the site: http://maricopavfw.blogspot.com/

Submitted photo
Submitted photo

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