Friday, September 27, 2013

The Wall

Yesterday, the traveling Vietnam wall came to our town. It is an 80% replica of the actual memorial in Washington DC. I, of course, decided to go and see it. I thought it would be cool and fun, since I may never see the real one. I got out my dog tags and my old "go to hell hat" and drove over, with Wifey, to have a look see. I had no way of knowing that seeing it and reading the name of guys, that I saw die, would bring such a flood of emotion. I, like so many other vets, fell apart, recalling the horrors of war, the sights, sounds and, even, smells that haven't gone away in 45 years. Recalling the young boys, almost men but not quite, and then looking at my own face, growing old and gray while they lay, forever 19 or 20 years old in their graves. Why did I return, unscratched? By the grace of God, I suppose. I felt that I had to do something, however insignificant, to honor a few of them, so I returned home and made up a little three page memorial for 11 guys that we lost on one, particularly, bad operation. We went back and I laid it in front of the panel with their names on it. A lot of people stopped to look at it and read what I had written and to look at the faces of the boys who gave all, especially the one who willingly gave his life to save his fellow Marines by throwing himself on a hand grenade. It allowed me to speak to a number of people, who took a genuine interest in what happened in those few days when all hell erupted. Rest in peace, Bazulto, Bell, Bice, Blessing, Brothers, Cahill, Castillo, De Abre, Lee, Perkins, Walton. Also Reinke, Cooper, Novembre, Dennis, Corns, Kemmelmacher, Angerstein, Woodard, Pinnsonault, Kluge, Kemski, Tapio, Ostroff, and, God forgive me, the others, who's names time has erased from my memory

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