I was gone last week also. Trouble and I went to Monterey to celebrate her big brother David's 60th birthday. David had married his childhood sweet heart just three years previously. Trouble and David grew up with this girl and all her brothers in Marina, just a few miles away. David rented a big house a couple of blocks from Asimilar Beach for the celebration. There were there generations of these brothers and they were wild men one and all. After the steaks were eaten and the birthday cake was polished off and the gifts were all opened, everyone got comfortable. About everyone went into the living room, where there was a big fire and they cuddled up with their wives or girlfriends and kids. Just David and Jay, Troubles step Father, and I sat in the kitchen drinking and telling stories. David dropped a bomb shell on me. He told me that just five years ago he started going to the VA for help. He told me that I didn't know anything about his life. I didn't say anything, but actually I had heard stories. David was a medic that flew with the choppers to rescue the wounded. Trouble was a teenager when her big brother came back from the war and she remembered the tick he had. She told me about how they had flown into a hot LZ and David was out picking up the wounded. When they were loaded David saw one more kid curled up in the tall grass. The Warrent Officer ordered David to get on board. David disobayed a direct orded and made a run for that kid. Bullets from the NVA whistled by and David's door gunner laid down as much cover as he could with his 30 cal. machine gun. David threw that kid on his shoulder and made a run back through the rain of bullets. When he got to the chopper he handed that kid to a soldier. The boy David went to save was already dead. David had risked his life and the lives of all his crew members by disobeying an order and doing what he thought was right. That is when David started to come unglued. I didn't mention this story and neither did David. David talked about he needed just a little help. Now Jay sat there with us and listened. Jay has his right foot shot off ten miles in from Normandy Beach. I have heard all the stories about the greatest generation and all that. I guess I am the only one who doesn't buy that stuff. I didn't know what Jay thought and I wanted to hear his take on David. When Jay finally talked he talked to David and he was kind. He said he was proud of David and thought he deserved any help the VA could give him. Then Jay blew me away: He said that he wished he could have done more in his war and helped more. I sat there speechless by everything I had heard. I sure don't want to take away from the WWll boys, but I think our boys acted with as much courage and dignity in Vietnam. It sure was good to be back, alive with these guys, kicked back and drinking beer. Life is good.
You are right Moose. I am convinced that some day, when the time is right, our Vietnam veterans will be showered with all the glory and the thanks that they so much deserve. It's just a matter of time.
Susan, I am so glad to hear your description of driving back East and not being able to see anything. We visited our son in N. Carolina a few years back and drove around the country a lot and I contacted a bad case of claustrophobia because of the land being so flat and all the trees everywhere. We drove several hundred miles and hardly ever saw more than 100 feet or so in any direction. It felt like we were in a tunnel all the time. I finally got a reprieve when we got to the coast and I could finally see a long ways in both directions down the coast. What a relief, I felt like I could breathe again! Now I know where the saying from the early 1800's "the wide open spaces" came from. It was from settlers coming here from the East. I've mentioned this claustrophobic story to friends and they just look at me like I'm crazy. Hence, I'm glad to hear you experienced the same things. Maybe I'm not so crazy after all.
You are not crazy. It is very claustrophobic driving where you have no idea where you are or what is behind the trees. Give me the West anytime.
To all the Viet Nam Vets,
Even though I was one of those people who protested the War, I never had bad feelings about the soldiers, and I believe that to be true of the majority of Viet Nam protesters. There were a few who made headlines by spitting on the returning soldiers and accusing them of atrocities, the rest of us knew that it is War not the soldiers that create the things that happen. It is the nature of war to elicite the feelings of difference. We do not have the capacity to kill each other without a whole mental reprogramming. I believe that when we experience the fight or flight most of us would flight, but war insists that we fight and in order to fight we have to see our enemy as sub human. That is why I hate war but I do not hate the soldiers.
So to all you Viet Nam Vets you have my respect and regard and here is a big kiss for all of you.
I'm 10 years younger than you so my experience with Vietnam is basically through movies and books. My generation graduated when it was all over. I suppose that's a good thing.
But thanks for sharing. My dad, Mr. Shill, was raised during a time of peace, ditto for me, my little brother, all my friends, and we all were/are very fortunate to be teens and early twenties during times of peace.
Susan, you should've hopped on I-90 and visited Spokane. Dinner on me.