PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Hall of Fame Steeler Rocky Bleier was wounded in action in Vietnam.
Actor Dick Hughes, a Pittsburgh native, was a conscientious objector who went to Vietnam by choice. Decades later, their paths will converge at a Heinz History Center fundraiser.
As a journalist in Vietnam, Hughes was shocked by images of children, bearing the physical and psychological wounds of war. He remained in Vietnam after American troops came home, setting up six group homes for orphans.
“We were there about eight years, helped about 2,500 kids,” he recalls. “And Pittsburghers were really great about support. Rocky Bleier, Andy Russell, Frenchy Fuqua, all put on ‘Help Dick Hughes’ shirts. But we got a lot of small donations from Pittsburghers.”
His organization, “Loose Cannons,” targets the continuing effects of defoliant Agent Orange. Rocky Bleier, who already lends his name to numerous causes, will join his friend at a June 3 fundraiser at the History Center.
Bleier says the Vietnam veteran and conscientious objector are not so different, after all. “He didn’t stay home and be safe. No, he went to Saigon, he went to Vietnam and he spent time there. He was in the streets. Not a year, not two years. He spent eight years doing the work.”
Dick Hughes sums it up: “We heard Rocky talking about the healing process. That alone was worth setting up this event, to hear him talking about the healing process.”
For more information on their work, log on to LooseCannons.us.