43 years and a wake-up

…the overarching bellow of white noise slowly abated. There was no other sensation for a few moments that seemed an age.  I heard the soft but hurried footpads of your approach.  I felt your paw on my chest; heard the anxious soft whine on each intake of your breath.  I felt the liquid sensation of your tongue on my cheek.  I opened my eyes.  I saw your face…I was alive.

I now think that from my first moment in-country I was destined to be with you, boy. I had a desperate need for a companion and a guardian and you had to be him. I finally understood what was meant back at Fort Benning when they spoke of “bonding”.

From our first duty at the PX supply yard, to the Air Force Bomb depot, to sapper sweeps outside the wire, you never failed to keep me safe.  You never allowed harm to come between us, always leading, ever protecting.  My demise was my own doing and yet you still saved me.

As fierce a guardian as you were, you were still my big old cuddly Prince who loved to frolic and would belly crawl a mile to play with a child.  Your tenacity through the terrible, horrible carnage of the battle field saved two little ones, in spite of our best efforts to close our eyes.  By saving them, you once again saved me.  We lived the mission to its fullest and protected the innocent; not through my intrepid determination, but through yours.

As my spirit faded with the realization of the futility of our efforts understanding that we would, in the end, turn away from these people, you served on and reminded me always of our duty, honor and service.  A better soldier I never met.  A better friend?  Only in my dreams, as we play Frisbee on a free open field surrounded by throngs of laughing children..

43 years and a wake-up ago, I opened my eyes, I saw your face, for the last time…Good boy!

Prince (16X5) , 34th Patrol Dog Platoon, 3rd Bde, 1st Cav, Bien Hoa, RVN 1972

Do Heroes matter too?

 What did the news tell you today?  Did you hear this?  I bet not!
You’re a 19 year old kid.
You are critically wounded and dying in the jungle somewhere in the Central Highlands of Viet Nam .
It’s November 11, 1967.
LZ (landing zone) X-ray.
Your unit is outnumbered 8-1 and the enemy fire is so intense from 100 yards away, that your CO (commanding officer) has ordered the Medvac helicopters to stop coming in. You’re lying there, listening to the enemy machine guns and you know you’re not getting out. Your family is half way around the world, 12,000 miles away, and you’ll never see them again. As the world starts to fade in and out, you know this is the day. Then – over the machine gun noise – you faintly hear that sound of a helicopter.
You look up to see a Huey coming in. But.. It doesn’t seem real because no Medvac markings are on it.
Captain Ed Freeman is coming in for you. He’s not Medvac so it’s not his job, but he heard the radio call and decided he’s flying his Huey down into the machine gun fire anyway.
Even after the Medvacs were ordered not to come. He’s coming anyway.
And he drops it in and sits there in the machine gun fire, as they load 3 of you at a time on board. Then he flies you up and out through the gunfire to the doctors and nurses and safety.
And, he kept coming back !! 13 more times!!
Until all the wounded were out. No one knew until the mission was over that the Captain had been hit 4 times in the legs and left arm.
He took 29 of you and your buddies out that day. Some would not have made it without the Captain and his Huey.
Medal of Honor Recipient, Captain Ed Freeman, United States Air Force, died last Wednesday at the age of 70, in Boise , Idaho
May God Bless and Rest His Soul.

What was the point?

Reflections: 9 APR 72: Don and I have the ammo dump again…better than the defoliant storage yard.  Those guys come back to the barracks with sores all over there bodies.  Jeff said he was having trouble breathing.  Lt sent him to the medics with Sarge.  Sappers have been back since we were here last week, track all over the scrub grass has the hounds going nuts.  Followed two different tracks to the fence just east of the end of the airstrip this time.  Bullshit, they aint coming from Ho Hoa, the small ville just beyond the north end of the fence line.   every time we track them backwards they bring us here or near here.  The sappers we are plagued by are locals.  That’s for certain sure as far as I’m concerned.  I’m watching the ville like a hawk when I work here and I’m going to tell the guys to do the same.  There aint no damn berm here…just fence wire and mines.  Them little fuckers squirm through the mines like pit vipers.  Shift ends with no further sightings or sniffings either…damnit!  WTF, are we here for?  These fuckers are our damn neighbors.  Fuck it, it don’t men nuthin!
9 APR 15: I met with the shrink in the morning, then made my way to The Wall.  I hurried home only to miss Tai chi. I waited at starbucks for “H-wave” demo. I ended up in Wendy’s being demo’d right there no less. I thought she was going to ask me to pull my pants down to apply the electrodes???  She didn’t…thank God, I’ve never shown my bambi tat. I then ran home to change so I could race into San Fran for a 6pm screening of “The Last Days In Vietnam”, followed (and preceded) by copious consumptions of various liquid respinement, erm…refreshment.  There was also a sprinkling of very tasty snacks and wicked decadent deserts.  The highlight really was an awe inspiring speech from a true American hero, Capt Paul “Buddy” Bucha, US Army, recipient of the MoH.  IMO, the kind of guy guys like me would follow into hell for the right cause.  HOOAH!
The movie itself, though incredibly well done, was one of the most depressing of all movies.  It cements in one’s head the fact that we, the GREAT United States of America, let an entire people down.  Not just down but left to rot under communist slavery and mistreatment.  We did that!  Then we partied like it was 1999 for 40 years. Yes, let the good times roll…cuz, DAMN IT, IT DOES MEAN SOMETHING!  How can priorities get so skewed?
I watched yesterday’s warriors enduring a documentary about the fall of Saigon, the very symbol of our failure, gripping their chairs or their wives hands.  The booze flows freely and the stories grow in equal proportions to the amounts consumed. It seems that in spite of our numbers each of us is alone in our grief.
I will not drink. I cannot bear the surrender of these great warriors to oblivion. I choose to remember their spirits from another day. I remember when they soared with the eagle. I departed with a sense of closure.  I needn’t come this way again.