Just below I posted an item on the Vietnam War, and reconsidering it in context. Indeed, enough time has passed now that the war can probably properly be put in context, which would, in my view, require pretty much tossing out all the existing histories and starting afresh. Not that this is that unusual. I've long thought that no accurate history of an event can be written until at least 40 or 50 years have passed since it occurred. the Vietnam War ended 40 years ago for the United States, and a little under that for North and South Vietnam.
What did this controversial war mean for Wyoming?
It's easy to think that it wasn't an event that impacted us in any special way, but every world event impacts a region in its own unique way. the Vietnam War is not an exception.
In many people's recollections, the Vietnam War at home is remembered in terms of civil protest. This isn't really the case for Wyoming. Volunteer rates for the service in Wyoming were remarkably high, keeping a tradition in Wyoming that goes back to statehood and which continues on today. Even for wars where public enthusiasm was high country wide, such as World War Two, volunteering for service occurred at a higher rate in Wyoming than elsewhere.
This doesn't mean, however, that everyone in Wyoming was uniformly for the war. Indeed, I can recall the house of a friend of mine where the parents had put up an antiwar poster on their front door, in a very suburban neighborhood, but that was very much an exception to the rule. For the most part, Wyomingites support the war, if not always enthusiastically. This too was the case with Wyoming's representation in Washington, which supported the war throughout its course.
Wyoming actually contributed to the war effort in a bit of a unique, if somewhat hidden and now mostly forgotten manner. The Wyoming Air National Guard's 187th Aeromedical Transport Squadron flew missions in and out of Vietnam in support of the war. The widely held belief that Guardsmen and Reservists didn't serve in the war is in error, and it is particularly in error in regards to the Air National Guard, which saw short deployments and missions of this type. The Wyoming Army National Guard, however, like most (but not all) Army National Guard units was not called up during the war. It was over capacity during the war, like all Guard units, which did in part reflect a desire by some of its members to fulfill an anticipated military service requirement which was unlikely to send them overseas. In sharp contrast to this, however, following the war every Wyoming Army National Guard unit would have a very high percentage of Vietnam War combat veterans.
Wyoming's Vietnam veterans did well in Wyoming following the war, figuring as significant figures in every walk of life. The war did change Wyoming in subtle ways, but they were subtle indeed. Never a state that opposed the war, the influence the general atmosphere had on the state's youth never deterred them from volunteering for military service at any point, but it did make such things as mandatory high school Junior ROTC sufficiently unpopular that Natrona County High School, which had that requirement throughout its history, abolished it just after the war. By and large, however, the view of Wyoming to the war was cautious, but cautious support.