11 Cares for Our Veterans: Operation Interdependence Special Report

By: Jessica Zartler Email
By: Jessica Zartler Email

Soldiers serving overseas during the Vietnam War were lucky to get mail in the jungles of southeast Asia.

And when they came home there were no thank yous waiting for them.

Now, one Grand Junction Vietnam Veteran is working hard to make sure today's soldiers don't have to go through the same thing.

11 News Reporter Jessica Zartler has the story in this 11 Cares
Special Report.

58,000 men and women lost their lives in the Vietnam War and for those like Spence Bergner who made it out alive, it was not something to be proud of.

He says, “We were baby killers. Ya know, I mean, people didn't spit on you, but they might as well have.”

Bergner served in Saigon. He remembers being in the jungles, working to stop supplies to the North Vietnamese army.

“We always had the threat of something,” he says.

Spence says the sounds of gunshots are nothing compared to the fear his family must have felt.

He says, “It's hard to be that far from home, especially at a place where your address is an APO and that's all your family knows.”

With protests at home for an unpopular war he never got thank you letters or care packages except from his mom.

“My favorite cake was always angel food cake,” he says. “My mom sent me a slice of angel food cake, you know, people just appreciate any touch from home.”

And now instead of the sound of gunshots it's the sound of candy and snack wrappers that drive him while he stuffs care packages for today's troops with Operation Interdependence.

“It's just giving back, ya know. It means so much to me… their patriotism. And we owe a great debt to those soldiers.”

And with each bag he packs he feels a special connection to the soldier who will get this touch of home.

“It's neat to think about the people as you fill the bag,” he says. “I think this guy would like gum.”

He never forgets what he and thousands of others gave, and what soldiers today are giving. They fight, regardless of politics or popularity.

He says, “We go about our everyday life, not thinking about the price of freedom. And it's not free.”

The cost is etched on walls across the country and in the minds of veterans like Spence Bergner.

Operation Interdependence is always looking for donations and volunteers. Contact information for the organization is below.
Karon Carley CEO/President & Area Manager
Operation Interdependence
970-523-4217 or www.oidelivers.org.

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