A song of remembrance

Paul Clinton

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

killers."

But these men sacrificed as much as the veterans of other wars, Nolte

said.

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

children.

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

combat.

Nolte's song is available for free at www.mp3.com/billnolte. Nolte can

be reached at bnolte@earthlink.net or at (949) 650-1570.

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