23 May 2006

23 May 66


I wish I had saved the notice.
I can't even remember the exact wording now. It was something to the effect that "your Uncle Sam sends you greetings and invites you to come on down and join the Army!"

Times bein' what they were, I knew it was coming.
Too proud to run to Canada,
too healthy to fail the physical,
too poor to go to college,
too smart to rush into marriage.
It was inevitable.

The notice had arrived about two months before, giving me plenty of time to notify my employer of my impending change of employment.
It was nice to have the two months to try to soak up as much "status quo" as possible.

But 23 May 66 dawned bright and clear, and I woke up knowing that my life would be changed drastically, and permanently.

Ya gotta remember.......
all this was colored through the lens of the fact that there was a rumbling in the distance.......
a place we were hearing about in the news more and more.....
Viet Nam.
Talk of Viet Nam, and the draft notice in my hand, gave life a sharp edge.

I was 19 and scared to death.
Events were about to be set in motion that would change my life more dramatically than I could imagine.

I look around me at friends and loved ones that took a different route than I was forced into.....
those that went to college or got married, and see their different outlook on life.....
Not altogether wrong.......but certainly different.
The course I took eventually resulted in bullets striking my aircraft more than a few times.
There is something about looking at a hole in your windshield,
realizing the projectile missed your face by about six inches, that will focus things in your life more than you might imagine........
There are people in the world that won't listen to reason, no matter how hard you try.
They will kill you.
They will rape your wife.
They will molest or mutilate your children.
They will kill thousands.......millions.......or more.
Nothing matters but the attainment of their goal.

Someone has to step into the breach and stop them from succeeding.
I thank God that in these "all volunteer military" days, we still have brave women and men willing to take on that task.

I was confused in 1966.
As a nation, we are still confused about whether we should have gone to Viet Nam in the first place, and what should have happened once we were committed there.

Do you have any idea how many people died because of our disastrous withdrawal from Viet Nam?
No, you don't. Because there is NO WAY to know.

How many people got into tiny, bathtub sized boats and committed their lives to the sea in scant hope of making it to a U.S. Navy ship, just over the horizon, rather than be subjected to the coming tyranny?
How many of them failed in that effort?
It shames me to think about it.
And then there is the story of our betrayal of the Montagnards.....
I can't even go there.

There is a book here, if I could just organize my thoughts.
One day I may try to write it.

And it will all start with a date 40 years ago today.....

23 May 66.


BoMarGirl said...

I had no idea 40 years ago what you were facing. I was at Ball State trying to figure out why I was there. But when I read about how scared you were, GB, my heart breaks and tears fill my eyes. It makes me sick to my stomach. Probably it's a good thing I was gone....I would have SAT on you to keep you home. Unfortunately, there are a whole lot of people in this world who hate us. They will kill our children & grandchildren if we give them an inch.

I very proud of all you did. Our country will need more brave men like you.

the golden horse said...

You know GB.... you hit a cord here.
I truly had not given much thought as how scared all you young men must have been back then.
DRAFT...it was just an accepted piece of life, or so we were lead to believe. Not even thinking of the ramifications of what the true meaning really meant.
Did we even give thought as to being able to question these decisions being made for us? We were brought up to accept adults and their decisions, no questions asked.
Sure we thought of separation of friends and family, but did we really even know what lay ahead?
Never, back then, would young men from the good ole midwest think of anything different but doing your duty.
The high percentage of young ladies didn't even think military back then, it was more like, get married and tie on an apron and procreate.
I know I feel like I wasn't really encouraged to go to college.
I wished I had had an option of studying more, but I was busy raising my 3 younger sibs. It wasn't until I was married, that I had this huge urge to go to Vet School at Purdue and the vet I was working with at the time said he would help me anyway he could.
Hubby didn't go for that.
In high school for many years, I wanted to go to Airline Hostess School, as it was called back then. I had my school picked out. AA in Dallas.. but back then you had to be single...Fiancee had a fit over that one.
So I guess when you look back on it. Your whole future was chosen for you and you chose to make something of it. Good for you. You should be very proud.
You made lemonade out of all those lemons.

Di said...

Nineteen...that's difficult to imagine....Terror...I'm certain that would be what I'd have felt?!?! Brave...that would describe you! I'm grateful for men like you...willing to sacrifice for all of us!! I'm glad you managed to dodge all those bullets. I'm thankful that you are here to share your stories, and to keep us humble. I'm proud of you for what you did for us all!

oleprairiedog said...

I salute you, Brother, but then how could I not.