Former Steeler Rocky Bleier Shares His Emotional Return To Vietnam

"58,000 Americans died. For what?"

Rocky Bleier

Rob Graner

PITTSBURGH (Newsradio 1020 KDKA) - Tuesday was the official launch of Fighting Back for Veterans, the re-release of the 1975 book written by Rocky Bleier and Terry O’Neil. The new edition of the book includes a forward by current Steelers offensive lineman and Army Ranger Alejandro Villanueva.

A few weeks ago, former Steelers running back Rocky Bleier joined Larry and John to talk about the new edition of the book and his return to Vietnam for the first time in 49 years, since the war.

Rocky is now back from Vietnam. After a more emotional visit than he expected, he chose to join KDKA Radio and share his experience.

Were you anxious about how you might be received as a former United States Soldier?

“No I wasn't concerned about that, only because of the fact that I had an opportunity to talk to some other veterans who had been there in the past, the changes that had taken place, and how the Vietnamese perceived Americans and American Soldiers - They love Americans, their outpouring was great,” Rocky said.

How did you feel when you were at the same coordinates where you were once hit by the Vietnamese?  

“I finally figured it out, this could be where it is. So my mind starts thinking about that and I walk around,” Rocky tells listeners. 

“Then all of the sudden, I was standing there, and there was this overwhelming sadness that emerged and I didn't know where it was coming from, I just didn't know where it was coming from. I started to cry, and I couldn’t figure out why. Ultimately I think it was sadness of waste, time, and what took place. 58,000 Americans died. For what?”

Why did you pass out after being in the area where you were injured?

"Everything was fine. Except for that moment in time, from an emotional point of view," Rocky tells KDKA Radio.  

"It was a combination of the emotions and sadness that had taken place. It gave me something to think about, especially in the realms of all those Vietnam Veterans who are out there who did not ever have a chance, maybe they don't want to, to go back and have to deal with what took place."

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