"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

Monday, July 7, 2014

Opinions, Thoughts and Feelings

Frank Fox

by Frank Fox

I was a Corpsman stationed with the Marines during the Vietnam Era. 

The war experience manifests itself differently with many men and women. Some are none the worse for wear for the experience, while other lives are shattered forever by PTSD and Agent Orange, and without any compassionate care.

Also many wives have endured living with these men, so their lives are impacted, as well as their children's.

It is my humble opinion that there should be some kind of screening of potential combat personnel, prior to them going into combat. Combat is not for everyone. It takes a special DNA for that. 

I say that because, at the same time I was in, my younger brother served in Vietnam with the 1st Air Cav. He didn't mind it. In fact, he asked to go a second tour and completed that second tour.

He was a door gunner/crew chief on helicopters, so he wasn't someone who drove for an officer, or typed paper work. Please don't be offended by that last remark. Everybody plays a part, when you are in uniform during hostile times. 

He in fact asked for a third tour and it was arranged, however, before he was to go, a little gal said she would marry him, and they removed him from going. How Vietnam took its toll on him was by giving him a drug habit, and exposure to Agent Orange.

His habit started in country, because it was readily available. Officers knew how invasive it was, but the troops did better when using marijuana. Trouble was, one day you were there, the next you were at home – and your habit went with you.

He was found with one (1) joint on his person and was subsequently kicked out of the Army that he loved. His exemplary service made no difference. Uncle Sam tolerated it in Vietnam, but once you were home it was a no-no.

You would think they would work with these men and women. Since then, the leaders of our country have been users and they were considered good enough to lead this country.

He lost his lower left leg to the effects of Agent Orange. He has long since finished the use of recreational drugs, but was left with the gut-wrenching humility of being booted from the military he loved.

My brother was an E-5 at 19 years of age, and had four rows of ribbons with several air medals. We will never know how many people got to be grandfathers, play baseball with their sons, or give their daughters away in marriage because of him. He is my hero for his service.

I write on the opinion/editorial page of the newspaper, whenever they will let me. They censor me fairly well, not for language, but for my thoughts. This is South Texas and they seem to resent my being sympathetic to minorities, or my defending certain groups. 

They criticized our last Veterans Day parade and downplayed it.  I wrote a 'Letter to the Editor' because they didn't let the children out of school to see their fathers and grandfathers march in the parade. They opted to give the kids a day off that worked well for the teaching staff -- on a weekend. The newspaper sided with the school district, saying there was not a very good response.

I was the last man in our Legion group to leave the staging area and I rode with the County Sheriff. We met at the local Civic Center, in large numbers recognized by affiliation, and those just in plain street clothes.

We also had many WW2 vets in the crowd. Most were in wheelchairs. I have to stop as a lump has come in my throat and tears to my eyes.

These old vets bound in wheelchairs had to have help but struggled to their feet when the colors were raised and when their military branch was recognized, and when their name was called. One had to be helped by a vet on either side of him, but he got there standing tall.

The reporter at the event said there was not much participation, and the kids were better off not missing school – I guess staying in class pulling pigtails was more important. How wonderful for the young to see their parents or grandparents in a parade.

Anyhow, the newspaper would not put my letter in the paper. I get censored all the time, and they want every sentence fact-checked. They seem to have something against people who have served. It's a different world now ....

CJ, thank you for the compliment and recognizing my service which I was only too happy to do. It is not for everyone, but God Bless those who chose to serve.

Frank Fox
Combat Medic
Sea/Air Rescue
US Navy with USMC
August 1964 – August 1970 (6 years 1 month)

“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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  1. All marines have great respect for their corpsman who served with them. When I got to Nam on my birthday July 8, 1967, I was attached to Supt Company, 3rd Engineer Bn at Phu-Bai, and three weeks later, I was transferred to C-Company, at Dong-Ha.

    When I checked in I met Richard Dean Morse, he was our corpsman for C-Company. He was a great guy who patched up a lot of wounded marines.

    Then on Sept 2, 1967, we took a lot of incoming that day, while running down through the company area, to get to the command bunker, a rocket came in and he was killed.
    We took it pretty hard because all the times he helped us, and there wasn't nothing we could do for him.

    Thank you for posting this. I feel more corpsman and medic's should be honored. they are the backbone of all our armed forces who are the first to lay their lives on the line to save others
    Allen J Folk

    1. Michael LansfordJuly 7, 2014 at 9:31 AM

      Thanks for all you did Frank. If not for combat medics I would not be here today. I live in S.E.Texas & like you say we are censured about anything pertaining to our war. Every year I ask our local paper to put even a small article about Hamburger Hill in 69, their response is it's not considered noteworthy to write about. Some things never change. In this little biased town I moved to 2 yrs ago I am the only Viet Nam Vet here & so far It looks like I moved to where all the protesters live. Now I'm back to the Evil Viet Nam frug head baby killer syndrome of which I have never done any of those, ever. This year this town had a Veterans day parade on Memorial day & I was notified by the local police & good citizens here if I showed up I would be arrested for LOITERING. Makes one proud to be here. As of now I am selling out & moving far away from these people so they can have each other. I totally understand the feeling of when your medic gets hurt you feel helpless. We had some trauma training but not like Doc did. I wish you & yours all the best my friend. God Bless & keep you all.

  2. Very well written in my personal opinion. Thanks for serving and welcome home!
    William Carr Jr.


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