COSTA MESA -- Bill Nolte hopes to honor the more than 58,000 men who
died fighting the Vietnam War one step at a time.
Each time he sends out a copy of his patriotic ballad, "So Long Song,"
Nolte said he is offering a positive message.
"It's a farewell, a way of healing from the memories of the war,"
Nolte said. "What I wanted to do in the song is make a positive statement
about Vietnam veterans."
Nolte, who served in the war himself, can still remember the cold
reception Vietnam veterans received in 1975 when they returned from
Southeast Asia. Instead of cheers, they heard hippies taunt them as "baby
But these men sacrificed as much as the veterans of other wars, Nolte
Nolte sets out the message of his ballad, which he wrote on Memorial
Day weekend 1999, in the opening lyric: "Don't forget your native sons /
They're the brave, courageous ones."
The 56-year-old Costa Mesa resident can talk about the Vietnam War
with authenticity. He was there.
After he was drafted into the U.S. Marine Corps in 1966, Nolte spent
18 months in Vietnam. In 1968, Nolte fought in the Tet Offensive -- the
siege of a Marine Base at Khe Sanh that turned U.S. public opinion
against the war for good.
During the Tet Offensive, the U.S. Army's Americal Division wiped out
the hamlet of My Lai, killing 500 unarmed civilians, mostly women and
Nolte has come to terms with his role in the unpopular war, saying he
hopes the country can join him.
"By doing this, I feel like I'm giving back something," Nolte said.
Nolte's own effort to distribute his song has been a tale of
adversity. After a string of rejections from radio stations and other
commercial channels, Nolte took his song to the Internet.
After linking his song to a series of veterans sites, Nolte's e-mail
basket became flooded with praise and requests for copies of the song.
In an April 6 e-mail, Marty Heuer, who identified himself as a
helicopter pilot during the war, said the song contains a "powerful
message for all veterans."
In addition to the message Nolte wanted to send about the war, the
song is also a tribute to Jack Burke, Nolte's friend who was killed in
Nolte's song is available for free at www.mp3.com/billnolte. Nolte can
be reached at email@example.com or at (949) 650-1570.