sister recently sent a link to a beautiful website
honoring an Iraq War Hero. It was beautiful and the
outcome was the way we like to see. The Marine was
awarded the Navy Cross, the second highest award for
combat bravery the United States can bestow. I
don't know how he could have done anymore - he should
have been awarded the HIGHEST medal of honor.
Those of us who were born before 1950 seem to have a stronger spirit of patriotism than our Juniors. Perhaps it's because we cut our teeth on heroes from Hollywood? We were taught that the good guy was always the winner - our heroes loved Righteousness - God - Country - His Horse - Dog - hardly ever kissed the girl, he only died for her.
Because of high-tech-media reporting we are often alerted to the bravery of our troops on the battlefront. Yesteryear we relied more on the printed reports which many times were lost in the shuffle. I want to tell you about heroes you see everyday and look the other way. I see them every time I report to the VA hospital for treatment. They are usually alone - most have a distant look in their eye. Many have long ponytails and beards. Some are in wheelchairs, some obviously have alcohol and/or drug problems. They are dying off fast! In years to come the Iraq / Afghan Vet will look a lot more like them - the Vietnam Vet. Unlike the Vietnam Vet, the Vets of today are honored. Time will do away with that - people forget. As they age and the "stuff" these men and women are carrying with them - which is burned into their brains will begin to surface as mental problems - and they will. Many will learn to lean on chemicals, drugs, alcohol, "crutches" to help them get through. They will not be able to explain their feelings. It would be like a person trying to explain to a blind person how the color 'blue' looks. Right now all the hoopla and popularity of the war, which is promoted by our administration keeps us all aglow and distracted from the reality of the long term effects of war on our Vets.
There was NEVER any hoopla or popularity for the Vietnam Vet to come home to. He was spat upon and called a Baby Killer. Thanks to people like Hanoi Jane Fonda - the "born-again" Christian who is kissing up now... I hope she and our Prez spend eternity together. While one was sleeping with the enemy the other was AWOL. When I visit with a Vietnam Vet I always thank him for what he did. Amazing how many people won't even give them the time of day, much less THANK HIM! Some of the Vets carry it well! They are successful and well-groomed. Support, education, money, amount of trauma they endured, how they are made and many other things determine how these forgotten warriors developed after the fact. The stories these guys can tell would make you want to puke! Therefore they don't tell them - there's nobody to which they can tell. The foot soldier who served in Vietnam won't talk about the blood in his underwear and socks. Blood from bleeding rashes brought about by sweat, filth and lack of clean clothes. These guys used toothpaste to help the rash problem! TOOTHPASTE! That's all they had. No miracle drugs - just toothpaste, insect repellent and any kind of drug they could get their hands on to erase reality and get through the night. They didn't have cell phones - they relied on the mail! Sometimes family members were already dead and buried before they knew it.
Most of these guys were teenagers! Now they are 50 - 60 - 70 years old and they still aren't honored as America's Best! These unsung heroes need to be acknowledged before the few who remain die.
I was in the USAF, my job title or more accurately referred to as the Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC) was Aircraft and Missile Electrical Specialist. I was not a combat Vet - I fixed the machines that the warriors used to kill the enemy with. Eighty percent of our military is in "support" one field or another - only about 20% of our military are combat troops.
Vietnam was - for the most part - a covert operation in the early years. They quietly rotated guys out of my base to man-up the upcoming war. Some went as TDY (Temporary Duty Assignment) some went for a full tour. Americans were not even aware for many years what was going on - it was a well kept secret. Cambodia was a common point of deployment in the early years - a good place to send a TDY Airman to help the South Vietnamese learn how to organize and fight the insurgents. Many were there as instructors / teachers. Some in technical areas, some in combat training. Our mission was known as 'Counter Insurgency' - the more elite and highly trained were accomplished Air Commandos - the USAF equivalent to the Army Green Beret. No fancy names, no fancy titles, just a well camouflaged, covert, support deployment. In the early going we were led to believe that we could teach the South Vietnamese how to war against the Insurgents - (VC).
The same mistake is being made in Iraq - in fact we are being lied to - to make you, the taxpayer and parents believe it. There are those of us who have seen it - I am one of those. I have tried every way I know to awaken people to these truths. Some of you may remember my e-mail messages to you a year or more back... I told you this was another Vietnam in the making. I have lost many friends over this. I begged you not to vote for this president and his private war. One of my (EX) doctor friends served his residency at the VA hosp. One day on the golf course I had a hard time remaining civil when he made the statement, "Those damned Vietnam Vets think we owe them everything." I came real close to introducing him to the business end of my 5 iron - which I had in hand. I nicknamed him "LUCKY" and to this day he doesn't know why.
Think about it.