Before this week of honoring Veterans slips away, I’d like to say that I am proud of my dad for serving in the Marines during the Vietnam War. The picture is of my dad and sister.
I’ve asked Dad more than a few times if he would share his war story with me as I’d like to put it in writing, but he has declined. He doesn’t like to think about it, and in his words, “No one would be interested.” I’ll share just a bit of it, though.
At 19-yrs-old, Dad was drafted as a Reserve to serve in Vietnam during the TET Offensive. During his time in the jungle, he watched his best buddies die from dysentery, saw first hand what military assault rifles do to the human body, exposed to Agent Orange, and “slept” in a foxhole night after night during torrential rains.
During one night in a hole, helicopters flew over and dropped strawberries. The berries were not fresh, and not that safe for human consumption, but they were food. In Dad’s words, “We would crawl on our hands and knees in the mud to get the berries, and then crawl back into the hole. We knew as soon as we ate them, we would get sick, but nothing was going to stop us from tasting the sweetness of those berries.”
My dad was blown out of a bunker by a grenade, and landed on the jungle floor with a broken back. He was there, helpless, for almost a full day before anyone could get to him. Can you imagine? At 19-yrs-old? He ended up in a military hospital in Europe for several months until he was able to come home. Dad earned a Purple Heart for his service.
My Dad does not use the computer very often, and is not on any form of social media. I’m pretty sure he would roll his eyes at me (and maybe share a few choice words) if he knew I was posting this, but I think his story matters.
Vietnam Veterans did not get the credit they deserved when returning upon war. My Dad is one of the lucky ones. He came back to his family, was able to work, made a living as a professional fisherman, and eventually started his own business. We all know there are way too many Vets (especially Vietnam Vets) who are homeless, and were never able to enjoy the things in life that my dad has. Surely, there is more that this country can do.
The next time you get frustrated by the rain, or upset that the fresh fruit you just bought at the local store isn’t that fresh, just remember, at least you are not sleeping in a foxhole.