"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, April 8, 2014

Yeah - I Knew Him: by Ben Weihrich

It took years to write this here little ditty, but in '92 it was placed in the "VETERAN'S VOICE", a magazine for hospitalized veterans. 

(almost 2 yrs in and out of nut wards, but things are straight now). 

Then in '94 it was placed at the PERMIAN BASIN VIETNAM VETERANS MEMORIAL 11/11/94. ~Ben Weihrich


For My Brothers and Sisters who stood the watch in the “RICE PADDIES.”

The “DUKE” (John Wayne) in “THE FLYING LEATHERNECKS” said it best when he found out that one of his buddies had “bought the farm” (KIA – killed in action), ”Yeah – I knew him”.

Yeah – Vietnam: I knew him.  I knew of his dreams, his loves, his wish to be in the arms of his family. To be working on his hot rod, instead of being a “tunnel rat”, to be at the ballpark cheering on the Dodgers or whoever, instead of doing a “body count” in some jungle.

Yeah – Vietnam: I knew him. To be on the beach enjoying the sun, surf, the girls and having a few cold ones, not waiting in a damn rice paddy on an ambush. Wanting to be home at Christmastime singing carols in the snow, but instead on a LRRP or on a search and destroy mission.

Yeah – Vietnam: I knew him. Holding his newborn child in his arms and looking at his wife in love and wonderment. Not screaming out in terror in the middle of the night because of some nightmare that happened today or a dozen years ago.

Yeah – Vietnam: I knew him. Late at night, in the bunker drinking hot beer, talking about things and girls, maybe the women we loved, going steady with, married to, or just got a “Dear John” from. Remembering her pretty eyes, the way she made love, the way she kisses, maybe how she could make us feel to be beside her, or away from her.

Yeah – Vietnam: I knew him. Knocking the grand slam at the softball game, selling that new car to the newlywed couple, planting the last seed on the north 40, instead of holding onto his closest buddy, making his last moments in this hellhole the best, sharing his last smoke because there was no way to save him.

Yeah – Vietnam: I knew him. Every time I light a square, because he left his “Zippo” to me, the one he bought at the PX and engraved “Joe Ragman – Nam, II Corps, War Zone C”. My mind flashes back to those days.

Yeah – Vietnam: I knew him. As I knock on his parents', wife’s or girlfriend’s door to pay my last respects. Telling them how we were friends, how he felt about the war, how much he wanted to be back home as I gave them his last letter which he had not mailed. I saw their eyes fill with anger, hurt, tears and then the questions. Damn.

Yeah – Vietnam: I knew him. As I stared into his face that's lost forever in the never-never-land of the V.A. Hospital and drugs: He never came home as Joe Ragman, but as a zombie, lost forever somewhere in that last firefight, dancing the “Thorazine shuffle”.

Yeah – Vietnam: I knew him. As the friend who lives under the bridge or deep in the woods, scraping an existence off Mother Nature or out of the dumpster of Burger King or grocery stores. Hiding out to escape the stares, the hatred, and the ugliness of the war. Staying loaded to kill the pain, the loneliness, the desperation of life.

Yeah – Vietnam: I knew him. As I walked among the rows of white headstones in the “Garden of Stones” looking at all of the names, dates and places. I look at “The Wall” finding and touching your name. I remember the good and bad times, the hopes, the dreams. I cry, not in sadness, but in hope that “This Wall” shall be the last memorial to those who fought in a war. In a war where all sides, the Victor and the Vanquished, lost. There are no winners in a war.

Yeah – Vietnam: I knew him. Here’s to you, Buddy, to your memory, to honor you, to remember you and love you. “Sleep in peace, comrade dear, God is nigh." [1]*

[*From Col Butterfield, "TAPS"] 

Respectfully submitted,

Ben Weihrich
Texican by Birth
MARINE by Choice
USMC '69 - '75
Graduate of Saigon "U" 

"The man who will go where his colors go without asking, who will fight a phantom foe in the jungle and mountain range without counting, and who will suffer and die in the midst of incredible hardship without complaint, is still what he has always been, from Imperial Rome to sceptered Britain to democratic America.

He is the stuff of which legions are made. His pride is in his colors and his regiment, his training hard and thoroughly, and coldly realistic, to fit him for whatever he must face. And his obedience is to his orders. He has been called UNITED STATES MARINE."
 ~T.R. Ferenhoch, ['This Kind Of War']

email Ben

“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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