"Sharing can be a way of healing. Grief and loss can isolate,
anger even alienate. Shared with others, emotions unite
as we see we aren't alone. We realize others weep with us."
~Susan Wittig Albert

Through our writing, we walk out of the darkness into the light
together, one small step at a time, recording history, educating
America, and we are healing.
~CJ/Todd Dierdorff

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Vietnam Thoughts: Pete Manuguerra

Hometown: Medina, Ohio
Vietnam Service Dates: April 9, 1969 - May 17, 1970
MOS: 11-B Light Weapons Infantry
Units Served:
1) Company A 1/35th Inf, 4th Infantry Div
2) Headquarters Company 1/'35th Inf
3) B 3/12 Inf, 4th Infantry Div

I found this on my office computer trying to clean up some computer junk and thought you might get a kick out of this old picture (it's me) from May 1969 at a Firebase called LZ Rock Quarry near Pleiku in the central highlands ...

I was basically still an FNG, so they gave me the M79 grenade launcher to hump & carry ... the gun was light, but ammo with vest was real heavy.  The picture was taken the day after our firebase got hit pretty hard the night before and our platoon leader, Lt. Gentinne, was killed.  Our medic was wounded pretty bad but he survived.

I was especially moved by three events this year:  providing a firsthand account regarding Lt. Gentinne being KIA'd at the Rock Quarry, attending the Ken Henniger Memorial Tribute, and of course the presentation at the Reunion in Pittsburgh that honors our fallen heroes ...

On November 21, 1969, at what remained of the Oasis Fire Base, I remember and honor Curtis Frantz, Robert Worthen and Charles Howze, who were killed due to a faulty 4.2 mortar round. In addition, Donald Boyles' KIA was related to this incident since he led a convoy from Camp Enari to the Oasis to potentially pick up the wounded. The convoy was ambushed on its return trip to Camp Enari killing Warrant Officer Boyles. I remember this day quite well after so many years. I still think about my buddy, Roosevelt Lawrence, who was on that convoy and, if my memory is correct, he was awarded the Silver Star.

I learned from all of my Cacti buddies, just how important it is to never forget. I am also thankful that I was one of the lucky ones to survive the experience of Vietnam.  Lets all not forget about our current military units who are fighting the war on terror. I have met some of these young men at the 35th Infantry Regiment reunions, and they are true warriors and special indeed.  

Hope you had a nice Thanksgiving.


[Thank you, Pete, and Welcome Home. ~CJ]

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do. And by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Military Salute

At my age, I thought I had seen just about everything.  Then the other day, I came across this video and it surprised the heck out of me.  It's just not something I would have expected to see.  It's a military salute done by Gene Simmons [Kiss] and it's wonderful.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.  God Bless America!

Kiss' Military Salute
by Gene Simmons

p.s.  I'm patiently watching my emails for some news from you vets ... thank you!

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do. And by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

God is Busy

A dear friend sent me this and I thought it was so good that I wanted to share it with you.  It kinda speaks for itself, don't you agree?

God is Busy

Subject:  If you don't know GOD, don't make stupid remarks!

A United States Marine was attending some college courses between his military 
assignments. He had completed missions in both Iraq and Afghanistan .  In one of the courses, he had a professor who was an avowed atheist and a member of the ACLU ...

One day the professor shocked the class when he came in.  He looked  up at the ceiling and flatly stated, "God, if you are real, then I want you to knock me off this platform. I'll give you exactly fifteen minutes." The lecture room fell silent, so silent you could hear a pin drop.

Ten minutes went by and the professor cleared his throat and proclaimed, "Here I am, God. I'm still waiting."  Then, when it got down to the last couple of minutes, the Marine got up out of his chair, walked up to the professor, and cold-cocked him, knocking him totally off the platform. The professor was out cold.

The Marine slowly walked back to his seat and sat there, silently. The other students were shocked and stunned, and they sat there looking on in silence. The professor eventually came to, noticeably shaken.  Then he looked at the Marine and asked him,"What the heck is the matter with you? Why did you do that?'"

The Marine calmly replied, "God was too busy today protecting American soldiers who are protecting your right to say stupid stuff
 and act like an idiot. So, He sent me."

God Bless America!

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do. And by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Military Wife

Yesterday, I posted this on my other blog, CJ's Writer Thoughts.  In thinking about it this morning, I thought I would post it here today as well.  I think you'll understand why.

Before I get too busy and forget, I wanted to tell you I'll be gone over the weekend, so I won't be posting on my blogs until after my return. Robert and I are heading south to Jacksonville, North Carolina, to visit my youngest daughter and her family. It's been fourteen long months and I'm so homesick for them I can't stand it. 

I've written about this little gal on here before. Her husband is a Marine forced recon sniper, and he's now on the downhill side of having 20-years in. He's routinely away, three tours already in both Iraq and Afghanistan, training missions, floats, etc., and out of necessity, she's become quite adept at raising three children, paying the bills and running the household in his absence. Her two oldest, both boys, are autistic, which makes things even harder for her.

If ever there was such a thing as 'the perfect military wife', my daughter is one. She's a petite, outgoing, witty, take-charge (even pushy, when she has to be) sort of lady, who swears like a longshoreman, which at times makes me cringe, but hey, she spends her time shopping at Camp LeJeune, is married to a Marine, and she's continually battling with the military for whatever help she can get for her two autistic sons, so I usually cut her some slack in that department.

I can't remember a time when she wasn't dependable and take-charge.  Even as a child, she was inwardly driven. I remember one summer when we lived in Indiana and our back yard butted up to the 8th hole of a golf course. We had made plans to take the three girls to Disneyland for a week during summer vacation. My ex at the time, a banker, told them they would have to work and save up to have spending money to take with them. The two older girls babysat and did various yard jobs around the neighborhood to earn money.

Not quite old enough to babysit yet, my youngest daughter decided to go the entrepreneur route and sell cans of soda from her red wagon right at the 8th hole on the golf course. Keep in mind, this was almost thirty years ago, during safer times. Anyway, she withdrew some money from her savings and we headed to the grocery store. She bought two cases of soda at a cost of twenty cents a can and then sold them for fifty cents each to grateful golfers as they arrived at the 8th hole. (Of course, I watched her like a hawk from my picture window). When she ran out of soda, we repeated our trip to the grocery. She made over $200 that summer, selling soda to the golfers.

I remember we had a great time at Disneyworld, and all three girls learned something valuable that summer. The value of hard work has followed them through their lives and I'm proud of all of them -- my youngest still has a good head for business, except what Uncle Sam pays doesn't really give her much chance to put those skills to good use ... I know I can't wait to get down there, and it's nice to know she's chomping at the bit like I am (smiling).  I'll be sure and give them all a big hug from you, too. 

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do. And by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Paul Thompson

I don't know much about this Vietnam vet -- he's a brand new friend on Facebook. What I've read here is what I know about him, but he's nice, he's a vet, and he served -- that's good enough for me.  He's earned my respect. Welcome Home, Paul Thompson ... thank you.

("tough enough to wear pink and then some ...")

by Paul Thompson

The old cowboy sits in the far back of the room listening to the gal with the big Gibson singing Patsy Cline. He's thinking about his days as a teenage Recon Marine in the jungles in Viet Nam, life was cheap there and he took so many, about his year in solitary as a POW in Cambodia and two more lives that gave him escape, about his return to the VA hospital and the country he served where he became an outcast for his answer to a call to duty, about all the loving hearts that he broke because he yet knew no better and could then give no more ...

The cowboy’s gone, his whisky's neat untouched, sits alone at his table thinking, listening, “I walk for miles along the highway, well, that’s just my way of saying, I love you” ...
just a beat-up old cowboy that does a bit of project management and writes poems and short stories, mostly western.

I teach from time to time -- U S Naval Academy, UNM-Los Alamos, Oxford, CO Tech U. I'm just "that guy in the three-piece suits and pointy-toed boots", and alone in this life -- can't seem to find a quality cowgirl that will have me.


“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do. And by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

To Friendship

When I found this in my mailbox, it made me laugh and it made me feel good because it came from a very good friend.  Naturally, I thought about all of you.  I hope it brings a smile and brightens your day. ~CJ

Friendship ~ None of that Sissy Shit!

Are you tired of those sissy 'friendship' poems that always sound good, but never actually come close to reality?  Well, here is a series of promises that actually speak of true friendship.  You will see no cute little smiley faces here ~ just the stone cold truth of our great and growing  friendship.

1. When you're sad ~ I'll help you get drunk and plot revenge against the sorry bastard who made you sad.

2. When you're blue ~ I will try to dislodge whatever is choking you.

3. When you smile ~ I will know you are thinking of something ornery that I would probably want to be involved in.

4. When you're scared ~ I will rag on you about it every chance I get until you're NOT.

5. When you're worried ~ I'll tell you horrible stories about how much worse it could be until you quit whining.

6. When you're confused ~ I will talk slowly and try to use only little words.

7. When you're sick ~ Stay the hell away from me until you are well again. I don't want whatever you have.

8. When you fall ~ I will laugh at your clumsy ass, but I'll help you up.

9. This is my oath ~ I pledge it to the end. 'Why?' you may ask ~ because you are my friend.

Friendship is like peeing your pants, everyone can see it, but only you can feel the true warmth.

Send this to 10 of your closest friends (me, too) ... then get depressed because you can only think of 4.

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do. And by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Article: Ken Burger

I read the following article by Ken Burger this morning as I was enjoying my first cup of coffee. He's a good writer. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

"You Can Leave The Military, But It Never Really Leaves You.”
The Post and Courier

Occasionally, I venture back out to the air base where I'm greeted by an imposing security guard who looks carefully at my identification card, hands it back and says, "Have a good day, tech sergeant."

Every time I go back onto Charleston Air Force Base it feels good to be called by my previous rank, but odd to be in civilian clothes, walking among the servicemen and servicewomen going about their duties as I once did, years ago.

The military, for all its flaws, is a comfort zone for anyone who has ever worn the uniform.

It's a place where you know the rules and know they are enforced. A place where everybody is busy but not too busy to take care of business.

Because there exists behind the gates of every military facility an institutional understanding of respect, order, uniformity, accountability and dedication that becomes part of your marrow and never, ever leaves you.

Reading Uniforms

Personally, I miss the fact that you always knew where you stood in the military, and who you were dealing with. That's because you could read somebody's uniform from 20 feet away and know the score.

Service personnel wear their careers on their sleeves, so to speak. When you approach each other, you can read their name tag, examine their rank and, if they are in dress uniform, read their ribbons and know where they've served.

I miss all those little things you take for granted when you're in the ranks, like breaking starch on a set of fatigues fresh from the laundry and standing in a perfectly straight line that looks like a mirror as it stretches to the endless horizon.

I miss the sight of troops marching in the early morning mist, the sound of boot heels thumping in unison on the sidewalks, the bark of sergeants and the sing-song answers from the squads as they pass by in review.

Hurry Up and Wait

To romanticize military service is to be far removed from its reality, because it's very serious business, especially in times of war.

But I miss the salutes I'd throw at officers and the crisp returns as we crisscrossed on the flight line.

I miss the smell of jet fuel hanging heavily on the night air and the sound of engines roaring down runways and disappearing into the clouds.

I even miss the hurry-up-and-wait mentality that enlisted men gripe about constantly, a masterful invention that bonded people more than they'll ever know or admit.

I miss people taking off their hats when they enter a building, speaking directly and clearly to others and never showing disrespect for rank, race, religion or gender.

Mostly I miss being a small cog in a machine so complex it constantly circumnavigates the Earth and so simple it feeds everyone on time, three times a day, on the ground, in the air or at sea.

Mostly, I don't know anyone who has served who regrets it, and doesn't feel a sense of pride when they pass through those gates and re-enter the world they left behind with their youth.

[Reach Ken Burger at kburger@postandcourier.com or 937-5598].

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do. And by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

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Friday, November 12, 2010

David Westfall: Being Home

"Dad.  Dad?  DAD!"  As I return with a start, I see my young daughter standing before me. “Daddy? You were staring again. What were you staring at?”  she says, with a little giggle in her voice.

I’m actually relieved. At least this time I wasn’t screaming, with the tears I didn’t know I was crying, which I explain away as having something in my eyes.

How many times have I repeated this scene in my life?  Both the one inside my head, and the one here in the present with my daughter.  Countless times. Too many times.  Awake is supposed to be the calm time, the time for peace, the time I can control. I control it so little though. My mind does what it wants and takes me back. My teeth are cracking from the constant stress-induced jaw clenching.

Night time comes and I don’t want to sleep. Who will watch over my family if I don’t stand watch? I must protect them, just like my buddies and I used to protect each other. Then there are the dreams. How do you explain to your wonderful wife the screaming, sweating, and thrashing that possesses you while you are supposed to be resting? How do you say, 'I’m sorry' for attacking her and all while you are asleep?

You want to go back. You want to go back for real. Maybe you can finish things. Maybe you can save one of the babies that is fighting the current war. Maybe you will find the camaraderie you have never found in the civilian world. Maybe you will get lucky and the horror will end ...

CJ, I don't worry about my daughter at this point.  She thinks it's kind of funny when Daddy stares, almost like we are playing a game.  I think your Doug would have been fine.  He had a selfless, caring, strong woman to come home to.  I'm not saying he would have been perfect, but like me, he would have survived living.  

When I came home, my then wife, was unsympathetic.  Maybe because before I left I seemed like Superman, capable of withstanding anything.  When I came home, I came home broken both physically and mentally.  Do I need to say our marriage only lasted a couple of years after my return?  My current wife is wonderful.  Even when she was scared to come home at night for fear of finding me dead from a self inflicted wound, she still did.

Counseling is huge for recovery.  Group counseling with people who can relate to you is key.  I was in groups where any member could have finished just about any of my sentences.  We understood each other.  This is one of the times of the year that I get sullen, so I thought I would get some of it out.  I took all of five minutes to write this one, but it's out.  And if nobody has ever said it, thank you for being a military wife.  Trust me when I say that Doug's life during his time in combat was made tolerable only by knowing you were at home supporting him.  After all, being a military wife is the toughest job in the military. 


Thank YOU, David. 

Memoirs has been a blessing for me, and you and the others are now a part of that blessing.  You have all become my comrades, the ones who can finish my sentences ... 
My warmest regards and respect,

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do. And by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Veterans Day

A Veteran is someone who once wrote a blank check payable to the United States of America for an amount up to, and including, their life.

Veterans, I Honor You ...

Thank you for your service to our country. I join the rest of the nation on Veterans Day in remembering the sacrifices of America's 25 million veterans and wish to express my appreciation for your service.

God Bless America. God Bless You.

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do. And by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

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Monday, November 8, 2010

The Final Inspection

This poem was sent to me by our friend, David Westfall, who has contributed to Memoirs in the past. The author is unknown, but I know you'll enjoy it as much as I did.

~Author Unknown

The Soldier stood and faced God,

Which must always come to pass.

He hoped his shoes were shining,

Just as brightly as his brass..

'Step forward now, Soldier,

How shall I deal with you?

Have you always turned the other cheek?

To My Church have you been true?'

The soldier squared his shoulders and said,

'No, Lord, I guess I ain't.

Because those of us who carry guns,

Can't always be a saint.

I've had to work most Sundays,

And at times my talk was tough.

And sometimes I've been violent,

Because the world is awfully rough.

But, I never took a penny,

That wasn't mine to keep..

Though I worked a lot of overtime,

When the bills got just too steep.

And I never passed a cry for help,

Though at times I shook with fear..

And sometimes, God, forgive me,

I've wept unmanly tears.

I know I don't deserve a place,

Among the people here.

They never wanted me around,

Except to calm their fears

If you've a place for me here, Lord,

It needn't be so grand.

I never expected or had too much,

But if you don't, I'll understand.

There was a silence all around the throne,

Where the saints had often trod.

As the Soldier waited quietly,

For the judgment of his God.

'Step forward now, you Soldier,

You've borne your burdens well.

Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets,

You've done your time in Hell.'

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do. And by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

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Saturday, November 6, 2010

David Westfall: The Anger

As you know, I am not a Vietnam Era Vet, but I thought maybe some of your followers could relate to this. I spent a lot of time with Vets that served time in Vietnam while I was getting help at the VA. I can only guess at the things they experienced. Regardless whether in a jungle or the desert, all combat Vets have experienced similar feelings and horrors.

Although I was never spit upon or called a baby killer, I did encounter more than one protest during the first Gulf War. Talk about a kick in the gut. Fellow Americans attacking ME for protecting THEM! Then you have to deal with our government. Little things, like maybe some compensation for your service-connected disabilities. The following ("The Anger") is something I wrote while dealing with the VA. Many years later, my case is still being reviewed in D.C.

I was a Navy AW. AW stands for Aviation Airborne Weapons Systems Operator. We operated RADAR, FLIR, SONAR and Magnetic Anomaly Dectection gear. I was also a Rescue Swimmer. My junior crewman and I were the first crewman ever in our helicopter to go to Combat Search and Rescue and M-60 Door Gunner training. This was in preparation for a deployment to the Gulf in 1987 when things were heating up with Iran. I started out flying in the SH-2F SeaSprite and later transitioned into the newer SH-60B SeaHawk.

I made two deployments to the Gulf and one to Somalia. We also flew numerous Law Enforcement Operations in Central America trying to ebb the flow of drugs heading North. Like I said before, we did a lot of special things in our helicopters. :) The picture is of me in the cabin door of my helicopter aboard a Navy Knox class frigate, the USS Holt. The USS Stark had just been hit and we were preparing to launch.

by David Westfall

We all have one thing in common. We served in the United States Military. Some went in as volunteers, others had no choice.  We were taught to march, shoot, crawl, jump, fly, build, destroy, repair, think, improvise, kill and survive. Most of all we were taught loyalty. Loyalty to our country, its government, our superiors and our comrades. We took an oath to follow all lawful orders. We went where we were told. We did what we had been trained to do. We put others and "the mission" ahead of ourselves. We buried friends, sometimes even when there was nothing left to bury. We did and saw things that no human in their right mind should have to endure.  Now, we have to live with these things for the rest of our lives. One should never have to feel lifelong regret for doing his job.

The kicker is, much of our anger comes thanks to our government. The government that trained us, ordered us, sent us there, and told us that anything we do is O.K. as long as it is for God and country. Now, here we are. Asking the country we served with so much self-sacrifice to help us. What we get is a turned back. It feels the same as if you were asking an old friend if you could stay at his house for a couple of weeks until you can get back on your feet, and the friend replies "Why don't you just ask me if you can screw my wife?"  No matter that you saved his life in combat. No matter that you are now crippled for life because you chose to help him. No matter what this friend says or does in the future, nothing will change. That one punch in the gut. That one instance of disloyalty is the core of your future existence. Your whole life will now be based on distrust, disloyalty, fear and anger.

We aren't asking for handouts or charity. We are only asking for what we deserve and have earned. They say that all gave some, some gave all. I don't know which is worse ...

Thank you again, CJ. I appreciate the outlet.

[Thank YOU, David.  I hope your case gets resolved with the VA soon.  Welcome Home, my friend.  With my warmest regards and respect, CJ]

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do. And by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

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Friday, November 5, 2010

"The Wall" on Veterans Day

Group: VVMF
Subject: Thousands to Gather at "The Wall" to Honor Our Nations' Veterans on Veterans Day!


The VVMF and the National Park Service will be co-hosting the annual Veterans Day Observance at The Wall on Thursday, Nov. 11, beginning at 1 p.m.

The keynote speaker will be Michael E. Heisley of the Heisley Family Foundation. Heisley's close friend, Rocky Versace, was a POW during the Vietnam War who was later killed in captivity. Versace received the Medal of Honor for his courage and inspirational spirit, and Heisley has been active in efforts to remember and honor his friend.

Other speakers at the Veterans Day ceremony will include:

-The Honorable Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior;
-General Barry R. McCaffrey, USA (Ret.);
-Peter M. Holt, CEO, Holt Companies, and owner of the San Antonio Spurs;
-Air Vice Marshal Kim Osley, Embassy of Australia; and
-LTC Connie K. Schultz, USA (Ret.), Nurse Surveyor with The Joint Commission.

Jan Scruggs, founder and president of VVMF, will be the master of ceremonies. Also offering remarks will be Diane Carlson Evans for the Vietnam Women's Memorial Foundation.

Kera O'Bryon will be singing "America the Beautiful" and Chris Jackson will play "Amazing Grace" on the bagpipes.

In addition, Nov. 14-18 is the 45th anniversary of the Battle of Ia Drang, the first major battle of the Vietnam War. To mark the occasion, Edward Times, a veteran of that battle, will lead the Pledge of Allegiance.

As always, the ceremony is free and open to the public. For more details, you can read the entire press release at our website.

Posted By Holly Rotondi

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do. And by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Humor in Vietnam: by John Puzzo

John Puzzo
Things happen that make us aware of our humanity, even in the demanding world of an Army Ranger.

Nothing illustrates that better than when peculiar and strange things happened -- things that could have occurred in no other setting than a long-range patrol in the Highlands. They became all the more memorable for that very reason ...
Nicknames ...

I remember once, when lightning struck the side of a mountain where a team had set up an ambush. 

The lightning set off all of the Claymore mines the team had set, arced through the radio, down the handset held by our Lieutenant, and then exited through his jungle boots, singeing his skivvies, and leaving his hair smoking. 

'Lightning Bolt' was none the worse for wear, except for a new nickname, a few minor bruises, and some burnt hair, but the team had to be extracted because the radio was cooked.

On another mission, a team went on high alert and everyone grabbed the clackers to their Claymores, when the guy on night watch heard footsteps coming into their night position just before dawn. 

He roused the team, brought up the artillery net, air assets were mustered for gunship support and extraction and, just before things were about to get noisy, a rooster clucked into view.

We might have eaten the feathery beast under other circumstances. The whole experience earned our high alert team member the nickname: "Rooster".

Both Ways

by David Hamm

I joined the LRRP's in October, 1968. One of the ways we relieved the tension, boredom, and sometimes sheer terror of how we lived was through humor, often directed at ourselves. I can think of these things, even to this day and it makes me smile.

One of the incidents involved a Green Beret named Foster, who was assigned to our unit for a while. 

Our team was taking a break during a mission and monitoring the radio, when we heard Foster call Zero in a highly excited state. He said their team had found a high-speed trail that looked like it was heavily used. 

When the RTO back at Zero tried to get the location of the trail, there was a long pause. Foster didn't seem to understand what information was wanted and kept repeating that it was a high-speed trail.

Finally, the RTO got through to him by asking him which way the trail went. There was another long pause ... and Foster replied excitedly, "It goes both ways."

The RTO could hardly contain himself and asked him to say again which way the trail went. "Both ways! The trail goes both ways, sir."

By this time, our team was literally rolling on the ground, laughing (silently, of course). After this, when someone would ask you where you were going, you said, "Both ways, both ways."

John J. Puzzo
K Company (Ranger)
75th Infantry (Airborne)
United States Army 1968 - 1971

[Excerpts from the book, "The Highlanders In the Vietnam War", which was written by my good friend, John J. Puzzo. If you haven't read John's book yet, I suggest that you do.].

Other Articles by John Puzzo:

Poem, "Waves"
The Lantern

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do. And by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

Feel free to comment on this post. You are also invited to write about anything you feel comfortable sharing. Memoirs From Nam is YOUR blog. You are writing America's history, sharing the truth about the Vietnam veteran, and what it was like in Our War.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Simple Soldier

While I have my first cup of coffee in the mornings, I usually check my mail and read a few articles online.  This morning, I came across this touching poem by Mr. Lawrence Vaincourt.  It really spoke to me and I thought I would share it with you.

Just A Simple Soldier

by A. Lawrence Vaincourt (c) 1985

He was getting old and paunchy

And his hair was falling fast,
And he sat around the Legion,
Telling stories of the past.

Of a war that he had fought in
And the deeds that he had done.
In his exploits with his buddies;
They were heroes, every one.

And 'tho sometimes, to his neighbors,
His tales became a joke,
All his buddies listened,
For they knew whereof he spoke.

But we'll hear his tales no longer,
For ol' Bob has passed away,
And the world's a little poorer,
For a soldier died today.

He won't be mourned by many,
Just his children and his wife.
For he lived an ordinary,
Very quiet sort of life.

He held a job and raised a family,
Quietly going on his way;
And the world won't note his passing;
'tho a Soldier died today.

When politicians leave this earth,
Their bodies lie in state,
While thousands morn their passing,
And proclaim that they were great.

Papers tell of their life stories,
From the time that they were young,
But the passing of a soldier,
Goes unnoticed, and unsung.

Is the greatest contribution,
To the welfare of our land,
Some jerk who breaks his promise,
And cons his fellow man?

Or the ordinary fellow,
Who in times of war and strife,
Goes off to serve his Country
And offers up his life?

The politician's stipend
And the style in which he lives,
Are sometimes disproportionate,
To the service that he gives.

While the ordinary soldier,
Who offered up his all,
Is paid off with a medal
And perhaps a pension, small.

It's so easy to forget them,
For it is so long ago,
That our Bob's and Jim's and Johnny's,
Went to battle, but we know.

It was not the politicians,
With their compromise and ploys,
Who won for us the freedom,
That our Country now enjoys.

Should you find yourself in danger,
With your enemies at hand,
Would you really want some cop-out,
With his ever waffling stand?

Or would you want a Soldier,
Who has sworn to uphold & defend,
His home, his kin, and Country,
And would fight until the end?

He was just a common Soldier
And his ranks are growing thin,
But his presence should remind us,
We may need his like again.

For when countries are in conflict,
Then we find the Soldier's part,
Is to clean up all the troubles,
That the politicians start.

If we cannot do him honor,
While he's here to hear the praise,
Then at least let's give him homage,
At the ending of his days.

Perhaps just a simple headline,
in the paper that might say:

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do. And by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

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