Saturday, November 11, 2006

VETERANS DAY...... always a day of mixed emotions for me.

First of all, I always get a greeting and rememberance from my sister Joyce. She's always thankful for my service and for the fact that I came home. She's also the only one to always remember and let me know that she remembers.

Then I always remember the ones who didn't return. Carl, John, Walter, Nick, Lt. Hunter, and so many others I can't remember and over 58,000 that I never knew.

I remember one scout pilot, a 1st Lt. whos name for the life of me I can't remember. For some reason he and I took to one another. Probably because we were 2 shy southern boys, who didn't go in for the drunken hell raisin', drink and be merry for tomorrow we die crowd.

We both were fans of a young British rocker call Rod Stewart, and were looking for some reason and purpose to our lives. Our lives revolved around flying. We loved it, and were, for some reason good at it. If being involved in the Southeast Asia War Games was the cost of getting to fly, so be it. It was.......

Lt. was a fan of a Florida guru/con artist popular at that time. Sort of a Tony Robbins of the '60s and 70s by the name of Glenn Turner. He taught some thing called the power of positive thinking. Lt would try to explain some of the teachings of Turner and the power of the mind. He was a slight built young man. Probably about 130 lbs, 5'9' or so. He was the only guy at that time I knew who could take a beer or coke can, place it on his forehead, holding it with only his palm, and crush it absolutely flat, suddenly, with no apparent effort. Mind you, this was before the switch to aluminium cans. I, of about the same size, couldn't even crush one between my two hands, exerting all my strength. There must have been something to what he had studied.

As things happen, people are killed, wounded or simply rotated home and Lt. was made the Scout Platoon leader. He took to it like a fish to water. A natural leader, and motivator of his pilots and crews.

We were assigned to fly hunter/killer teams in an area we called the tri/border area. Northwest of Kha Sahn, where North and South Vietnam and Laos came together.

One team, 1 scout ship, 2 cobras and 1 huey for cover, ran into a group of NVA on and around a small hill there. The scout ship was shot out of the sky and crashed, no apparent survivors.

All of the teams could hear what was going on. All quit whatever they were doing and prepared to give assistance. In the hope that there might be survivors another scout tried to sneak in with rocket cover from the cobras to check the wreck site. Another burning and crashing bird. Bell jet rangers, known for their inability to survive a crash.

Lt. was now on the scene in his scout ship. Appraised of the danger and the evident superior firepower of the NVA, he was warned and ordered to stay out of the area of the hill, since to attempt to rescue any survivors would surely result in another bird down. The conversations between birds was heated and intense, with Lt. adament that he was going to try to get his guys back, that he was positive he could succeed....

.........he and his crew died.

Their bodies never to be recovered.

Nine Men died that day. And I can't even remember their names.

But in Washington, D.C. their names are inscribed on a black wall in a hole in the ground, for the ages to remember as are so many names of so many men and women, from all the conflicts that this country has felt it necessary to order them to go.........

...............and die.

The tears always come, but never a catharisis, and never a release from the Kudzu.

1 comment:

Jean said...

oh, Larry... what a heartfelt, beautiful piece!

The tears will last forever... may the kudzu be gentle.