31 October 2009

Going Off To War

I was a 21 year-old kid.
I had just finished flight school and had a whopping 210 hours in my logbook, meaning I was just beginning to comprehend what caused helicopters to successfully push the air away from them.
Forty-One years ago tonight I crawled into my bed in my parent's home knowing that when I opened my eyes in the morning I'd be headed where someone would try to shoot me.
"We interrupt our regular programming to bring you this special news announcement..."
President Johnson announced, effective tomorrow, bombing would be halted on enemy supply routes.

What had I gotten myself into?


Rita said...

On that night, I'm sure you could not even have imagined what you had gotten yourself into.

And tonight, millions of us will never know what you and those like you had gotten yourselves into.

And so, wasn't that the purpose? That people like me would never have to know the sacrifice?

So I can assure you, it worked.

I never had to know what you and my husband went through. You can tell the stories, but we could never ever understand the sacrifice.

The most pathetically best we can do is to thank you for your service. We sure got the best end of the deal, and don't think we don't know that.

Cissy Apple said...

Someone asked me the other day if I was "for" the Vietnam War. I had to honestly tell them no, that I wasn't. But back then, I only involved myself in one protest and that was in high school to protest the governor's budget cut for education. (We staged a sit-in in the gym until Mr. Vandermeer talked us all into going back to classes.)

Although I wasn't "for" the way, I wouldn't dream of disrespecting our troops. For sure it wasn't their fault we were in Southeast Asia. I can't imagine the hell that all of our warfighters have gone through--from the Revolutionary War to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan going on today.

Veterans' Day is fast approaching. Let's not forget the sacrifices of our troops and their families. Please shake the hands of any vets you meet and tell them thank you for all they've done to keep us free.

There are also organizations out there that support our troops. My favorite is "Soldiers Angels". They match you with a soldier in Iraq or Afghanistan. You email, write, send cards, and send care packages. If you do it right, it's not cheap. But it's rewarding and worth the price of a few hours of your time and the cost of the care packages.

Consider doing what you can to let these fine young men and women know we're behind them. And again, don't forget to thank a vet.

Greybeard and Bobby...again, thank you for your fine service to our country. I love my heroes!

Greybeard said...

I don't know a soul who is "For war" Cissy, least of all those who must leave family at a tender age and go implement it.
But most of us know there are things worth fighting for, and we can discuss later the pros and cons of the Viet Nam war...
Folks like the Montagnards who trusted us with their lives, only to be abandoned.
Honor is important to me, and I cannot tell you how ashamed I am of our country's conduct in Viet Nam.

I'm always a little reticent to publish a post about Viet Nam. I was one of the lucky ones...
I slept in a clean bed every night and normally ate at least one hot meal every day. Folks like "Ole Prairie Dog" slept in the field in a tent and were glad to have LRRP rations when they could get them.
During my year there I had a few tense moments, while scout pilots or infantrymen were out doing near-medal of honor work almost on a daily basis.
To the degree EVERYONE who raises their hand and swears "to support and defend" can, I'll accept your thanks with some degree of pride. But I am no hero...
I just did what I had to do to survive my tour and come home to friends and loved ones.

But I know who the heros are...
I've rubbed elbows with them.
Their character and selflessness brings me to tears if I allow myself to dwell on it.
(And this goes for many in our Law Enforcement community too!)
I thank God our country still produces such men and women.

And Cissy...
I go out of my way to thank those in uniform every time I see them. It embarrasses them every time.
I don't care.

Anonymous said...

In a day and age where a pilot needs 500 hours for the privelege of sweeping the hangar floor and 1000 hours to carry a passenger, the heros like yourself were flying hot and heavy, at night with people shooting back. I hope the young pilots that you teach to fly understand what you have seen and done and show you the respect you deserve. My hat is off to you sir.