"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, March 26, 2013

Mile High Jump

Lee Bishop
Here are a few reminiscences about my experiences in Vietnam, where I was a linguist and cryptographer. Here is one of the tamer stories:

Mile High Jump 

I'd just rejoined Detachment 3 of the 3rd Radio Research Unit at Tuy Hoa after coming back from an assignment with a Special Forces unit. Someone got the bright idea that I should go right back out to do some work with a radio relay station (1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division).

I got my gear together, hopped a Huey that was assigned to transport me, got to the site, and was told to jump because the ground was too rocky to land. We were a mile up in the air, all five thousand two hundred eighty feet of it.  I was loaded down with equipment, no parachute, but what the heck... I jumped.

Fortunately there was five thousand two hundred and sixty-five feet of mountain underneath me and I actually only fell twelve feet.  It was still quite a jolt when I landed, and I did lose two toenails (today I have arthritis behind those two toes).

The assignment was interesting. This mountain just jutted up out of the rice fields to the north and west of North Field. You had a tremendous view of the city of Tuy Hoa, North Air Field, the ocean, the river flowing into the ocean, and, of course, the rice fields.

One night, to our northeast, I watched an attack on one of our ammo dumps. It ignited and there were fireworks galore. It was pretty, but it ripped you up thinking about the seven kinds of hell the guys on the ground were going through.

Contributed by Lee Bishop
Columbus, Ohio

**Thank you, Lee, 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

Monday, March 25, 2013

Tombstone Coins


While visiting some cemeteries you may notice that headstones marking certain graves have coins on them, left by previous visitors to the grave.

These coins have distinct meanings when left on the headstones of those who gave their life while serving in America's military, and these meanings vary depending on the denomination of coin.

A coin left on a headstone or at the grave site is meant as a message to the deceased soldier's family that someone else has visited the grave to pay respect. Leaving a penny at the grave means simply that you visited.

A nickel indicates that you and the deceased trained at boot camp together, while a dime means you served with him in some capacity. By leaving a quarter at the grave, you are telling the family that you were with the solider when he was killed.

According to tradition, the money left at graves in national cemeteries and state veterans cemeteries is eventually collected, and the funds are put toward maintaining the cemetery or paying burial costs for indigent veterans.

In the US, this practice became common during the Vietnam war, due to the political divide in the country over the war; leaving a coin was seen as a more practical way to communicate that you had visited the grave than contacting the soldier's family, which could devolve into an uncomfortable argument over politics relating to the war.

Some Vietnam veterans would leave coins as a "down payment" to buy their fallen comrades a beer or play a hand of cards when they would finally be reunited.

The tradition of leaving coins on the headstones of military men and women can be traced to as far back as the Roman Empire.

**Article courtesy of My Dad is a Vietnam Vet

“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