Saturday, April 01, 2017

Vietnam Veteran's Day - March 29th

Did you know that?
I didn't until someone I knew put it up on her Facebook wall.

My husband and his brother both served in Vietnam.  Growing up in the poor side of their town, they both had gotten scholarships to the University of Idaho for engineering. My brother in law got kicked out because he failed to go to classes after he fell in love.  My husband quit the next year because his scholarship ran out. Unlike what my parents did for my brother; their parents could not afford to send them back by buying a slot at school. Their father had been in the Army Air Corps in Japan. Their grandfather was in WWI with the big guns. Service was an honor in their family, so off the boys went.

My brother in law became a door gunner for a medic helicopter. His second tour he was a crew chief on the same type of ship.  From what he said, when he was drunk, his role was to tell the pilot when to take off- wether everyone was on or not. They landed in some pretty heated places. Purple Heart type landings. When he returned for good he finished his degree and made a pretty good living.  He died ten years ago at the age of 58 from a combination of Agent Orange and lots of self medication.

My husband was a Special Forces medic. My guy is pretty shy, but sharp as a whip. He was at the top of his medic classes and saw that field as one to get to the most people in the fastest way. When he arrived in country his assignment was an area that lost a medic every ten minutes. His commander from training spotted him and rerouted him to teach the Montagnards the art of being a medic. His brother had no idea that he had enlisted and was mighty mad. My husband experienced nightly shelling, but felt he was "safe". Of course, all 20 year old guys are invincible.

Both men left as gawky, poor, inexperienced kids and returned as solid guys. Unfortunately, they were both assaulted at Fort Ord as they got off the planes after their tours with spit and dolls filled with red paint. People justify themselves often over these tactics, just as they currently justify themselves with calling  people who do not agree with them names. I don't know how many times it has been implied that, "I am the smart one on the right side".  To each their own.

My husband left service and returned to school. He went back and forth between his GI Bill and working in Alaska for seven years. His hair was down to his waist and his bar tab was higher then the trailer rent. The GI Bill ran out, so he joined ROTC. He graduated, with high honors with a Finance major and seven minors.

He rejoined the military, with an exemption for his age. That is a whole different story.

We go to Arlington and visit some of his friends and some of my relatives. Vietnam, Bosnia, Saudi Arabia, Germany, 9/11, Iraq and Afghanistan. We have friends at Arlington from each of these wars (or more politically correct- conflicts). We stand for the flag and put our hands over our hearts and remember that Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors and Marines are people who are trying to do their duty to serve a country and a people whom they love and honor. They are not political. They do it for us.


Barbara Torris said...

This is a beautiful post. The Vietnam war still is leaving it's mark. We visited North Vietnam several years ago. We bought goods from the natives and could see that that wars wounds were still healing. I have friends that tell the same stories as your husband. What the very misguided young and old people did to our soldiers when they returned from that war was sinful at the very best. I have to believe that those people, now old like the rest of us, regret what they did. At least I hope so.

I was raised in rural eastern Oregon where we honored our military and sacrificed our share of men. My grandson is a Marine! I am proud of that.


Laura said...

My husband was a door-gunner and crew chief in the Army National Guard (think Dan Quayle). He didn't go to college, but he had a good job right out of high school as a draftsman for Black & Decker and they helped get him into the Guard because they didn't want to lose him. Then he got very, very sick (almost died) and was medically discharged from the Guard. After he got well, the head of his local draft board thought he should serve again, so he soon got his draft notice ("Greetings!") - it came on a Wednesday and by Friday he was in the navy - he knew that as a trained gunner and crew chief "overseas" wouldn't mean Germany. He figured he would still go to Vietnam with the navy, but instead he was stationed on a carrier that went to the Mediterranean, and spent his time there until the war was over. He considers himself a VERY fortunate man, especially because in the navy he discovered his calling, aviation and avionics, and ended up making it a career both on active duty and after he retired. He didn't end up going to war until Desert Storm in the early 1990s, where his carrier sailed right into the Persian Gulf, closest to Iraq, and was affected by all the smoke and such coming from the burning oil wells.

We still haven't gotten over Vietnam though. I still wish ALL had to serve in the military for at least two years, no deferments. The service was and could be the great equalizer again, as it was during WWII. Vietnam turned that on its head.

Janette said...

B+ Thank you for your kind comment. -

Laura- I agree that everyone, man and woman should serve for two years in some capacity. I am delighted that your husband found his calling, and sorry he had to endure the burning oil fields. Thank you, both, for your service. -Janette