"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, May 31, 2011

Walt Hardester: Vietnam Medic

Birth Place: Norfolk, VA

There was once a man just in his prime, who thought retiring early would just be fine. Then one day he pondered a fiery scarlet sunset alone at the helm of his sailboat. He thought to himself, I should take a picture of this to show my friends back home.

But alas, being a photographer he knew a picture would never give the viewer the smell of the ocean air. A mere photo could not let the viewer feel the wind as it pushed his boat effortlessly, or hear his boat as she creaked happily riding the swells.

It was at that moment he realized that sailing the wonders of nature must be shared. But, no one seems to have the time anymore. Then he said out loud, to no one but the dolphins bumping his bow and doing playful flips in the air, "Natures wonders can never be really appreciated if we don't take the time to notice, and share." It matters not which media we

The Medic

He remembers most the faces, nameless faces.
Not the catastrophic injuries that brought them to his now.
A blank stare of utter disorientation, non verbal,
On the next a look of disbelief, “Tell me I’m gonna be ok, Doc.”
Terror with realization of the reality of what has happened.
Fear, looking for hope when there is none to give.
Loyalty, asking to be patched up so he can return to his comrades.
Faces of youth snatched away.
Too many last words heard spoken were of Mother.
I’ll have to cry later, right now I’m just too busy.

©2008 Walt Hardester

This one is for all my Brothers and Sisters in arms ... then and now

"Like a woman who has never given birth, the man who has never faced death and inflicted death, will for all of his life feel somehow not quite complete."  [by Gustav Hasford, author of "The Short Timers", which was later made into the film. "Full Metal Jacket"]

The Point Man

Fatigues have turned from green to brown,
From lying on the fetid ground.
Walking in paddies the feet do sink,
Ants, leeches, and three step snakes.
Can't I go home for goodness sakes.
A nasty pit with Punji Stakes.
A "Booby Trap," the line I see,
Across the path in front of me.
I raise my fist to tell my mates,
To lightly step, for death awaits.
Oh no, another hill to climb,
The "World" some other place in time.
Trained to do all that I can,
To guard myself and fellow man.
No don't hand to me that joint,
Because today, I have the point.

©2007 Walt Hardester

Walt is a brother, father and grandfather, patented inventor, decorated Viet-Nam Veteran, published author, poet, freelance photo journalist, Solo sailor, musician, expert marksman, Paramedic and Respiratory Therapist, Patriot, Nature lover, and oft times, Serious Dumb Ass.

Articles about Walt have appeared in the Northeast Georgian, Tallahassee Democrat, and DEMA trade show news.

Walt has been interviewed on CNN, TWC, and the syndicated broadcast network, Jefferson Broadcasting. But ... I'm still trying for that elusive "hole in one".

"I think being a Medic in Viet-Nam was the most important thing I have done in my life." ~
Walt Hardester

“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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Sunday, May 29, 2011

In Honor of Memorial Day

This came to me in an email this morning from my brother-in-law, Dennis Kempf.  It's a poignant reminder and I would like to share it with all of you in honor of Memorial Day. 

The Vietnam War: The Vietnam Memorial Wall

There are 58,267 names now listed on that polished black wall, including those added in 2010. 

The names are arranged in the order in which they were taken from us by date and, within each date, the names are alphabetized.  It's hard to believe it is thirty-six years since the last casualties.
Beginning at the apex on panel 1E and going out to the end of the East wall, appearing to recede into the earth (numbered 70E - May 25, 1968), then resuming at the end of the West wall, as the wall emerges from the earth (numbered 70W - continuing May 25, 1968) and ending with a date in 1975. Thus the war's beginning and end meet.  The war is complete, coming full circle, yet broken by the earth that bounds the angle's open side and contained within the earth itself.
The first known casualty was Richard B. Fitzgibbon, of North Weymouth, Massachusetts, listed by the U.S. Department of Defense as having been killed on June 8, 1956.  His name is listed on the Wall with that of his son, Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Richard B. Fitzgibbon III, who was killed on Sept. 7, 1965.
* There are three sets of fathers and sons on the Wall.
* 39,996 on the Wall were just 22 or younger.
* The largest age group, 8,283, were just 19 years old
* 3,103 were 18 years old.
* Twelve soldiers on the Wall were 17 years old.
* Five soldiers on the Wall were 16 years old.
* One soldier, PFC Dan Bullock, was 15 years old.
* 997 soldiers were killed on their first day in Vietnam.
* 1,448 soldiers were killed on their last day in Vietnan.
* 31 sets of brothers are on the Wall.  That means, thirty one sets of parents lost two of their sons.
* 54 soldiers on the Wall attended Thomas Edison High School in Philadelphia.  I wonder why there were so many from one school.
* Eight Women are on the Wall.  Nursing the wounded.
* 244 soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War;  153 of them are on the Wall.
* Beallsville, Ohio, with a population of only 475 lost 6 of her sons.
* West Virginia had the highest casualty rate per capita in the nation. There are 711 West Virginians on the Wall. 
* The Marines of Morenci -- They led some of the scrappiest high school football and basketball teams that the little Arizona copper town of Morenci (pop. 5,058) had ever known and cheered. They enjoyed roaring beer busts, and in quieter moments, they rode horses along the Coronado Trail, and stalked deer in the Apache National Forest.  In the patriotic camaraderie typical of Morenci's mining families, the nine graduates of Morenci High School all enlisted as a group in the Marine Corps. Their service began on Independence Day, 1966.  Only three ever returned home.
* The Buddies of Midvale - LeRoy Tafoya, Jimmy Martinez, and Tom Gonzales, were all boyhood friends and lived on three consecutive streets in Midvale, Utah, on Fifth, Sixth and Seventh avenues. They lived only a few hundred yards apart. They played ball at the adjacent sandlot ball field. And they all went to Vietnam..
In a span of 16 dark days in late 1967, all three would be killed.  LeRoy was killed on Wednesday, Nov. 22, the fourth anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Jimmy died less than 24 hours later on Thanksgiving Day. Tom was shot dead assaulting the enemy on Dec. 7, Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.
* The most casualties for a single day, 245 deaths, was on January 31, 1968.
* The most casualties, 2,415 deaths, for a single month was May 1968.  That's 2,415 dead in a single month.

We will never forget ...

“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, May 25, 2011

Vietnam 1970: Chuck Kinler

Combat Medic
Chuck Kinler
3rd Platoon B Co 2/12 cav  1970-71

I landed in Vietnam in November of 1970, and now it seems so long ago. I came from Ft. Polk with a one-week leave and then I was off to Oakland to board a Seaboard World Seaboard World Jet for Nam.

I had orders for the 1st Calvary Division. I was a 91A, PFC medic. I stood in line processing in and they asked if anyone there could type. I raised my hand, and I ended up spending the next five weeks sitting behind a typewriter processing people in and out. But the inevitable finally came and I was on my way in an aircraft (I believe the called it a Hurkey Bird) to Camp Gorvad, just outside of a town called Phouc Vinh in Vietnam.

I was soon assigned to Headquarters Company 2/12. After checking in to the orderly room, I went to the Aid Station and met the Doctor and Platoon Sergeant, both names I do not remember. That night I saw a movie while sitting on a bunker and we all got pretty loaded that night. I remember, the beer was Schlitz.

Two days later, it was Christmas. I helped out on a couple of sick calls and did some hands-on training with field medicine and IV’s.

New Years Eve day 1970-71 will forever be etched in my brain. It was my first day in the bush. I hooked up with my new Platoon and I was to spend one day with their current medic, and then he was going to be the CP medic.

It was an operation based on information that American prisoners were being held at a camp near Dau Tieng. Everyone was anxious to go. We flew by Chinook to Dau Tieng, where we loaded onto Hueys and combat assaulted into a green LZ. Then we got hit real hard by God only knows what, maybe NVA, maybe just Charlie, but it wasn’t a pretty sight. It was especially bad to a young 19 year-old FNG who had to crawl forward and help sort out the wounded.

I remember that day went by so fast. Spotter planes shot Willy Peter rockets to mark the target. Jets and choppers came and bombed and strafed, and then they bombed some more. Bullets and RPG’s were flying everywhere. That day, I also realized you could see a B-40 when it flies. Dust offs came and went more than could be counted. The shooting stopped and then it started again, until the whole day had gone by. 

 I went through five packs of cigarettes and tagged at least ten grunts who weren’t even in my platoon, but I didn’t know, because it was still only my first day and I didn’t know anyone. I wasn’t really scared -- I didn’t have time to be scared, and the wounded just kept coming. I remember a LT. Walker. Though I knew him not, his body passed through my arms on his way to the evac chopper. I remember he was the worst with a severe head wound.

Then they said there was to be a cease fire that night because of New Years. Waves of helicopters came in to take us out. There were piles of rucksacks on the ground that they set on fire. I guess you might say we got our asses kicked, but I don’t really know. I do know, I had the blood of ten or maybe fifteen different men on me.

I was on the last wave out. My cherry was broken. That morning, I got on a chopper and I was 19 years young. That evening, as we flew away from Tay Ninh Province, I was 19 years old ...

Chuck Kinler

** Thank you for sharing, Chuck Kinler.  You are among friends who care. Welcome Home.  Your friend,

“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

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Hello, America, You Listening?

I know war is bad.  I know war is wrong.  Hell, war hurts.   But here I am, and so are you, caught in the crosshairs of those who aim their hate at America and everything and everyone we love.   Right now, our freedom, our people, our very beliefs, are being threatened in the streets of nearly every major city in the world.  Hello, America, you listening?

What frightens me even more is to see Americans protesting again, like back in the Vietnam Era.  There are even Americans -- and I say  the word, Americans, hesitantly here, preferring to think of them as terrorists, themselves -- who show up at military funerals, wanting to protest there.  These are our fallen heroes, America.  They fought and died earning the very freedoms you dishonor them with, by your protesting ... that's just not right, and every time I hear about it, I feel like someone sucker-punched me in the gut.  Hello, America, you listening?

These funerals are so much more than laying a soldier to rest.  These are our husbands and wives, our sons and daughters, nieces, nephews, brothers, sisters, grandchildren ... these were our future doctors, teachers, lawyers, and our one-day neighbors and friends.  These funerals bury so much more than soldiers, people.  These are America's young, who gave up their hopes, their dreams, and all of their tomorrows to do what they felt was right.  Thank them and show your respect by allowing their families to bury them in peace.  Hello, America, you listening?

Everyone hates war. We've all given till it hurts, and I agree, we should choose our battles wisely.  But people, we're not always given a choice.  We have to defend ourselves, our country, and our beliefs when they're threatened and, if we have to fight, we have to fight to win.  With the constant threat of terrorism, we're facing pure evil, right here in our own lifetime.  Osama Bin Laden may be gone, but we aren't out of the woods yet.  Get your heads out of the sand, people!  We don't know what's going to happen next ... hello, America, you listening?

Take a few minutes, everyone.  Thank a soldier, hug a vet.  Put the focus where it belongs.  You will never change anything by protesting -- you're only making things worse by being terrorists, too.  Don't you see, there are better solutions?  Far more can be accomplished by voting into office those who feel as you do.  Change has to come from the top.   "If you can't be part of the solution, at least don't be part of the problem ..."

God Bless America ... are you listening?

“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, May 18, 2011

In Honor of Life: Memorial Day 2011

Old Woman in Cemetery

In Honor of Life

by CJ Heck

It was Memorial Day and as she did every year, Lidia Cleary drove to Eternity Acres Cemetery with three of the nicest spring bouquets she could find.   She took very seriously what she called, "My private time to grieve for those I've lost to war."  It was her way to honor them and show how much she cared. 

One bouquet was for Great-Grampa, Mack "PJ" Mullerton, who died during the first world war.  

The second was for Uncle Theo Tarns. He was killed when his plane was shot down in the second great war.  She had never met Uncle Theo, but she was still fiercely proud of him and, as with great-grampa, forever indebted to him for his service.  

The last bouquet was always the most difficult.  She always made sure it was the largest, most colorful of the three.  This bouquet had to be special, because it was for Daddy.

Lidia was only six when she hugged Steven Cleary's neck tightly for the last time at the airport in Stewartsville.  

She remembered crying and begging him to stay.  "Please don't go, Daddy.  I'll miss you and so will Mommy.  Please stay.  We need you."  She knew he was just as sad to leave them.  She saw him wipe his eyes when he turned to hug and kiss her mother.

Steven had been killed in Vietnam, a decorated infantry soldier, and a hero.  Her mother, Sarah, had eventually framed his medals and they hung on the wall beside his picture, over the fireplace.  

Lidia remembered how sad that time had been, after the family learned he had been killed.  But as sad as she had been, she had never felt so helpless, as hearing her mother sob into her pillow at night and not knowing how to comfort her. 

Lidia was so lost in her thoughts that she nearly missed Uncle Theo's grave.  She had to turn and walk back two rows and she chided herself for not paying more attention.  

Her prayers over, she finished talking to Uncle Theo.  Now it was time to find Daddy.  Her heart always felt like it was in her throat as she walked the steep path to the upper section where Daddy rested in the Cleary family plot.

Just as she was nearly at the top, she saw an elderly woman bending over one of the older headstones to the left of the walkway. Lidia stopped, hoping the woman wasn't about to topple over. She watched in silence as the woman tucked a folded paper under a vase of roses on the flat marble headstone and then adjusted a small American flag. 

As the woman stood, she suddenly turned and their eyes met. Lidia could almost feel the woman's thoughts when she saw the pain in her eyes. Then just as quickly, the moment was gone and the woman had turned away.

She watched as the frail woman walked slowly down the path towards the entrance gate. Lidia was stunned.  She could see she was crying, but she was also smiling. 

Lidia felt compelled to go over to the headstone and read whatever it was the woman had tucked under the vase.
"To my husband, my lover, my friend: I will always love you. I hope you like the roses. All my love forever, Your Maeve"
Lidia read the short note and, now crying herself, the words filled her with a new awareness. She could imagine the wheels of time turning the days and months to years, until suddenly, you realize, it's been a whole lifetime a loved one has been gone. 

Then one day, like a bucket with a hole, you see grief sifting slowly through, and instead of mourning their death, you begin to celebrate what they meant to you in life. 

Lidia closed her eyes and replaced the letter in its home under the vase of roses.  She quietly thanked the old woman as she placed the third bouquet on the headstone for Daddy. 

As Lidia thanked Steven Adam Cleary once more for being her father, she also remembered all of the love and the good times they had together. 

Now when Lidia cried, she could also smile -- and this time, they were tears of joy.

“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

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Comment: God Bless the Marines

The following comment was left this evening on an article written by David Westfall on March 30, 2011, God Bless the Marines.  It's from Darlene Brandafino-Claus, the mother of the Crew Chief on the flight that crashed at K-Bay.  She did not include an email address on her comment so I could not write to thank her, but the comment was so heartfelt that I wanted to make sure everyone gets a chance to read it.   My thanks go to Darlene.  May Ronnie have a fast recovery -- Welcome Home, Ronnie.  And a special thank you again to David for writing such a wonderful article.


I am the mother of Cpl. Ronnie Brandafino, the Crew Chief on the flight that crashed at K-Bay on March 29th.   Ronnie was three weeks away from completing his 5-year committment to the Marine Corps, and he was due to come home for good on April 17th!

He has been my hero for so many years of his life.  He was even before the Marine Corps, but most definetly since joining and especially now, as I watch him struggle through the tragedy and the injuries he was left with.

I'm eternally grateful to his Marine Corps family who stood by our sides, to the Doctors who saved his life and his leg, though he has a long road ahead of him.   He is special and strong and motivated to heal and walk.

Thank you for your kind words and thoughts.  Ronnie is currently healing at Walter Reed and will move over to Bethesda when he is ready. He is an amazing young man, an Amazing son, and an amazing Marine. His fallen brother is carried in his heart -- they were like brothers.   In every picture of them, they are laughing. Jon's family is forever in my thoughts and prayers.

~ Darlene Brandafino-Claus
Very Proud Marine Mom x2

“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, May 13, 2011

PTSD: Michael Van Strien

PTSD:  When Trauma Doesn't Heal
by Michael Van Strien

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011 | 11:26 AM

Living in the aftermath of trauma can be described as nothing less than a life of suffering. For people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the church can be a hard place to be. Well-meaning friends try to help by offering platitudes like, “we’re praying for you” or, “you need to believe the gospel” or, “give it over to the Lord,” but they just don’t seem to understand that the suffering just doesn’t go away. Thankfully, theologians are trying to discern biblical truth for trauma survivors who live in a world full of triggers and misunderstanding.

For example, Dr. Shelly Rambo, professor of theology at Boston University, challenges Christian leaders to think theologically about trauma survivors in Spirit and Trauma: A Theology of Remaining.

A traumatic event is not like a death of a loved one or being rejected by a friend. Instead, it involves activities that were life-threatening, either physically or in one’s perception, creating a sense of unrecognizable fear, utter helplessness, or horror. Dr. Rambo points out that trauma is a wound that “remains long after a precipitating event or events are over,” and it “exceeds categories of comprehension” related to an event. Trauma is an encounter with death which exceeds the human capacity to take in and process in the external world. In fact, because of trauma, what one knows about the world is shattered. What is true and safe are ruptured. “The event becomes the defining event beyond which little can be conceived,” writes Rambo. Life is not the same anymore. The trauma interprets life for the sufferer. There is no life after the storm. It hovers. The rain may stop but the clouds that threaten rain always remain.

Surviving post-trauma is a life of navigating one’s way through a minefield of triggers that remind the sufferer of the traumatic event or events. Triggers can lead to random bouts of sobbing, irregular and disturbed sleep patterns, outbursts of anger, depression, anxiety, loss of hope, loss of interest in things once loved, thoughts of suicide, self-medicating with drugs or alcohol, as well as running away from thoughts, conversations, people, and places that might arouse traumatic memory. Because trauma survivors re-experience the event in ways outside of one’s control, healing is not a matter of believing the right things about God -- or by getting the gospel right. Time does not heal traumatic wounds. Traumatic memory is something only God can heal. The Holy Spirit must empower trauma sufferers to re-imagine their future.

Is there hope for healing PTSD in this life? Maybe. There are no easy answers or guarantees. But what I do know is that those limping around in life after experiencing trauma need people who love them enough to realize that they may never “get over it” and that their on-going struggle does not represent weak faith.

Come, Lord Jesus (Revelation 22:20)!

[Michael lives in South Carolina with his wife of 28 years, Jackie, and his son, Micah.  He served with the 101st Airborne's Division's 34th Public Information Department as a Combat Correspondent in 1970, Phu Bai, Northern I Corps, 25 miles from the DMZ].  

*** Thank you, Michael, and Welcome Home.  Your friend always, 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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Thursday, May 12, 2011

Answer to a Prayer:

I came across this article while reading this morning. It really touched me and I thought I would share it with you.

Answer to a Prayer
by W. H. McDonald Jr.
(Copyright 2003)

In March of 1967, there was a lot of action in Binh Duong Province -- in particular, a place known as Ho Bo Woods. This still contained large elements of the politico-military forces of the Viet Cong’s Region 4 Headquarters. This area was laced with tunnels and spider holes (camouflaged sniper holes that the VC used).

There had been some heavy fighting in this area for the prior 15 months, with no end in sight. Basically, Charlie owned this piece of real estate. He made us pay dearly for every inch of ground we walked on or flew over. This was “Indian Country,” and it was not a very good place to be flying alone on any kind of mission. In this area our troops had discovered a very large underground complex that included a three-story hospital and offices for the officers, which were all buried under the forest. This was one of those bad places where I could feel the fear creep up my spine, and I could taste it in my mouth anytime I entered the area. It was a very nasty place to do business in, and I never looked forward to flying missions into or around this area.

On this one particular morning, we had an early start before sunrise. We had been airborne for an hour, but were having a very difficult time locating anything below us in the darkness. When daylight broke over the forest, we had to contend with a thick ground fog that covered everything as far as we could see. Below us looked all white, like a rolling cloud on the ground. We could not see the treetops in most places, so we could not tell if we were flying over an open area or trees. The few LZs (landing zones) inside Ho Bo Woods were small clearings where GIs had cut down the trees or blown them up with explosives, so even the LZs were no bed of roses. They all had tree stumps and fallen logs, which forced us to hover our chopper just a few feet off the group, so that the troops had to jump out. We also had to throw out the supplies.

We had been flying support for some elements of the 25th Infantry Division on this day. We were all alone, flying single-ship supply missions mostly, fresh food and ammo for the ground troops. We had been concentrating so hard on watching out for Charlie that no one was watching our gas consumption. Needless to say, we had wasted lots of our fuel in a series of long searches, trying to find where the troops were located.

It was still very early in the morning. The part of the forest we had been flying over was now completely engulfed with a heavy thick fog. There was just no way we could carry on our present mission. We circled around to get our exact bearings and location. The pilots had become a little disoriented by the fog, which covered guiding ground references. The fog was not burning off, but it was slowly rising. It rose upward to around 100 feet or more, just enough so we could not see the treetops anymore. The good news was that no one could see us either, so we were safe from any ground fire.

The bad news was, our fuel warning light had come on with its audio alarm sounding off. The light flashed on the instrument panel as both pilots froze at once. Neither one had any real clue to our present location or where our own troops where below us. We did not have enough fuel to make it out of the fog shrouded forest. We had no idea which way to turn the aircraft. All directions held a mystery. All the ground below us was hostile and forbidding. There was no right place to go. We were stuck in this twilight zone between certain death and the fog.

We had remaining only about five to ten minutes of fuel. It seemed none of us really knew for sure how much was supposed to be left when the fuel warning light came on. We did not know how much time we had before our aircraft would drop out of the sky into whatever waited for us below. If it were treetops, then our ship would crash and the rotor blades would thrash the trees and twist the body of the helicopter and those inside it. We knew what that would look like because we had seen one of our company ships do that same thing just the week before. That image played over and over inside my head.

The other possibility was that if we could crash land and survive, we would certainly be at a high risk for being captured or killed by enemy troops. It would be a long time before anyone could find and rescue us. The fog would hide our aircraft for hours, and no one would have any idea where we were because we did not even know for sure ourselves.

All these thoughts ran through our minds. Our hearts were pounding, as if we had just run a long distance race and lost. I looked around, as I would normally do in this kind of situation, trying to figure out what I might need once we crashed. I grabbed my M-16 rifle and some magazine clips. I wasn’t carrying any food or water. We did have lots of colored smoke grenades to use in case we were in need of a rescue attempt. But in this fog, no one would be able to see them. The pilots had been in radio contact with our other company helicopters, but none of them were close by. That was assuming that our guess about where we were was, in fact, where we actually were. So, even after we had given our mayday distress call, no one would be able to quickly respond.

Our fuel should have run out, and we knew we were running on sheer luck. We did not fully understand why we had not dropped out of the sky yet. The fog was endless in all directions. There was just no opening anywhere to be seen. So, I began to silently talk to God, asking for His help to find us someplace to land before we crashed into the forest below.

We were mentally ready for the worse kind of crash. Not knowing what we were falling into gave us no preparation or defense against the certain destruction that came when the rotor blades tore the aircraft apart.

Then, out of nowhere, just below us, where we had already looked before, there was a clear opening over a grassy meadow area -— a perfect LZ to drop down into. We turn and lined up with the LZ just as the engine died, having consumed its last ounce of jet fuel. The helicopter was less than 25 feet from the ground, and the blades were still rotating with enough force that we did not drop very hard. There was no damage —- a perfect landing, in fact.

I immediately jumped out of the ship as it hit, taking my weapon with me. Around the tree-lined meadow we saw movement everywhere. Our helicopter was completely surrounded. We were on the ground, ready to defend ourselves. There was no way we were going to win this battle. We were completely outnumbered and surrounded. Any resistance on our part would have been a death warrant for sure, so we just held our position and waited.

Then we began to notice the uniforms that they were wearing. They were elements of the 25th Infantry. By some unbelievable luck, we had dropped right on top of one of their small temporary camps. We couldn’t have been more blessed if we had tried. Not only were we surrounded by our own troops, but they also had a supply of JP-4 jet fuel for our helicopter.

It was a strange experience and hard to explain. For example, why did this LZ just open up in the middle of so many square miles of solid fog? Why was there a clearing at this spot waiting for us? Why hadn’t our helicopter run out of fuel prior to seeing this opening? Why had we not seen this opening before when we were looking right in that same area?

It was a very lucky or blessed day, depending on how you viewed the events. Just good luck you might say, but then, perhaps other forces were at work. Maybe the power of a small silent prayer opened a big hole in the fog? I do not know for sure why it all happened as it did. I do know that we did not crash, and no one was killed or injured —- and that was good enough for me. I do not need anyone to tell me that prayers do work —- I believe.

[The poet, and writer, Bill McDonald, served in Vietnam in 1966 and 1967. He was a crew chief/door-gunner on Huey helicopters (UH-1D). He was with the 128th Assault Helicopter Company stationed in Phu Loi, South Vietnam. He was awarded numerous medals, including The Distinguished Flying Cross, The Bronze Star, 14 Air Medals and the Purple Heart.]

“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, May 4, 2011

Mike Monahan: New Author

Mike Monahan and Chico in Vietnam:  

On April 11, 2011, my husband, Mike Monahan, had a book-release at Joseph-Beth in Cincinnati, OH for "From the Jungle to the Boardroom" (at Amazon.com) 

The book highlights his journey from his tour in Vietnam with the 46th IPSD (Tay Ninh) 25th Div, to leading a nonprofit organization in Cincinnati since 1994 and his return to Vietnam in 2000. He was a scout dog handler from 1969-70 and through the years had reconnected with a couple of the guys from his platoon here and there, but nothing that was lasting until April 11, 2011.

I had been researching on the web, trying to find the men from his platoon and finally found one, JL Davis. JL made his first trip out in the field with Mike and Chico, back in 1969. He sent me an email telling me that he wouldn’t be able to make it to the book-release (which I was hoping to surprise Mike with!), and I was so disappointed.

Well, lo and behold, when we arrived at Joseph-Beth, two-hours early (thank goodness!), JL and another gentleman by the name of Carroll “Rich” Richardson, were there! They had driven from Tennessee (JL lives in Glasgow, KY) in a drenching rain to be a part of Mike’s special day. I have attached pictures of their initial meeting, along with another shot and crowd shots of the evening.

The three of them had the opportunity to sit and chat at the coffee shop at Joseph-Beth until show-time for Mike and it was truly a blessed evening. Since then, they have stayed in touch by email and are planning a get-together in the near future, hopefully with other members of the platoon also.

Mike Monahan, Author  

And what a special day it was! Over 300 people were there to kick-off the release of “From the Jungle to the Boardroom!” That evening, Mike signed over 350 copies of the book and another 50 copies for Joseph-Beth.

The book has been a blessing to many that have read it. It has opened the door for many vets to talk of their experiences in Vietnam and begin to heal their hearts. It’s not just a story about Vietnam. It’s a story from inside the man who was in Vietnam and how it changed him and how he changed in order to be free.

From the Jungle to the Boardroom was also listed by Inc. magazine as #1 on this month’s best seller’s list. http://www.inc.com/best-business-books

Much love and hugs to all veterans and their families,
     Nancy Monahan

P.S. Perhaps you wonder why this is so important to me? It took years for my husband to allow his medals to literally “come out of the closet.” I would get them out, he would put them back. His children never even knew he was in Vietnam until right before he returned to Vietnam with his son, Brad. As the last line of the first email I sent says, It’s a story from inside the man who was in Vietnam and how it changed him and how he changed in order to be free. So many vets just sit with it inside their hearts. And most of the time, it sits in a dark spot. One of my goals is to bring the dark spot into the light. And it already has! ~Nancy

“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, May 2, 2011

Thank a Veteran

I borrowed this post from a blog website where I was reading today called, Vietnam War Letters.  It's excellent advice ... my thanks to you all, as well.

Thank a Veteran 
(Article from Blog: Vietnam War Letters)

Back in 2004, at my workplace, they decided to send a care package to my son and his MP Company in Afghanistan. As word spread, people from all over the company I worked for, came with items to send the troops. People were very eager to do anything they could to let them know that they were appreciated. The care package quickly turned into numerous packages. All of the work, and all the expense, was taken over by my co-workers. It is something I will never forget. 

I realized that people were doing their best to say thank you to those serving overseas. That made me stop and think that I worked with several veterans, and I had never taken the time to thank them for their service. Well, to make a long story short, I went to them one at a time, and thanked them. Not only did it make me feel good, but it was the right thing to do. 

I would suggest that if you are reading this, and know a veteran, thank them for their service. “Thank you for your service” are just five short words, but they can mean a great deal to someone who has never heard them.

And if you are reading this and you are a veteran, 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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