"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

Friday, July 25, 2014

Remembering Comrades: by Michael Lansford

Remembering Comrades
I made a promise to always remember everyone from the day I left. It was a promise I made 45 years ago. It's a promise I've kept.

I need to say thanks to all the comrades I spent time with in country and I would like to remember as many comrades by name as I possibly can. I owe them that.

So, this is for all we lost, those who survived, moved on, or never left, both physically and mentally.

Here's to the KIA's, MIA's, Officers, NCO's, Docs, medics, and nurses. Our lives are, and will forevermore be, changed by the events we endured, saw, lived, etc.  You helped to make it possible that we lived on.

Thanks to Lt. Tangel, Lt. Art Deverill, and Commander Roger Dent (a great leader).

Thanks to SSGT Becker, who taught me how to read the jungle and survive. He had already been there six years and vowed to stay until the end. He did. We lost him in the last bunch out in '75, after a 12-year tour, I'm told. He loved what he did and took care of his boys.

To my medic, Rodriguez. Thanks for always being out front for us and saving as many lives as you could. We owe you eternally.

For Big Dan, every time we were on perimeter it always was raining. I never forgot.

Bill Sullivan, remembered because we went to Austrailia together. There's more, but you know.

Ted Zimmerman, who promised to have enough kids for a football team. I hope you did.

Thanks to Steve Graebner, The California Kid.

A thank you to Jim Kizziah, who always talked about getting home to his wife and back in the coal mines. It's the only thing he ever wanted to do.

For Donny, who wanted to go back to school at LSU along with his wife.

They were all men to be remembered and thanked. Without them and many others, I wouldn't be here today. They were heroes, all of them.

For Danny McGrady, whose letter from home to me saved my life -- he taught me timing is everything,

To Michael Allen Hawk, Disharry, Eddie Miles, Ted Zimmerman, Phil, Short Round, Walt, Chris, Ron Devarry, Dave Pounders, Jim Young, Steve Graebner, Stratton, SSGT Gibbs, Michael West, Hawkins, Richard Gagne, Castle, and many more names that I can't remember.  Thank you, and please forgive me, because I will never forget you, names or no names.

CJ, thanks for posting my comrades remembered. Without them I wouldn't be here. I barely knew the guy on the right in the picture, as he was a FNG, known as a "Shake & Bake", an NCO fresh in from the world. He still had to prove himself to the guys after I left. I can't remember his name, but no one ever knows new guys -- unwritten law, until they put in their time. 

I'm not sure how many made it home, after I left.  One of the guys wrote and told me the next fire base they went to was overrun and nearly everyone was KIA.  He didn't say who, but he did say he was shot up pretty bad and on the hospital ship HOPE out in the Gulf of Tonkin. 

I've never heard a word from anyone since. Maybe it's better that I never knew.  My guilt level would have gone up, thinking if I had been there, maybe more would have survived. I'll never know -- more of that 'right time-right place-thing', yet one more time, but every day was like that just the same.  Like I said earlier, all we knew was, when we saw the sun come up, we knew we had lived another day.

We will forever be connected and remembered. Some we lost, some survived to go on with life, not realizing that Vietnam would never really leave us. Our war will never end.

Sin Lio I say, "Sorry about that." I will always remember what we were told from the beginning: to take care of ALL our equipment, because it was made by the lowest bidder. (That even applied to us).

I truly wonder about all my comrades, how those that made it home managed. I wonder how their lives have changed, or how they made a difference, if any.

For those we lost, you have our undying gratitude for dues paid in full, debt's we can never repay. We that survived only moved down to another lonely LZ, Fire Base, Trail. Valley, Hill. The never-ending saga of a Vietnam Vet.

Please don't judge us too harshly. We did our best and never, ever backed away from anything. We accomplished every mission we were handed, no matter what the cost, or hardships we dealt with.

In the end, all we have is each other, and our memories, both good and bad, that we reflect on, all of which we must deal with in our own ways. There is no wrong in the way we handle our feelings. They're ours and ours alone. We earned that right.

Whatever we do in life, we will always be drawn to that time and place in our lives. There's no way around it. We just handle things from a different perspective now. It was different there, more than the world will ever know or understand.

So, to all Veterans, past, present, and (sadly) future: You have my undying gratitude for all you did and are doing. No one can ever take that away from you. This is still America and she's worth fighting for.

God Bless and keep you all, wherever you may be ...

“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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