September 14, 1970 – It was a Monday, I flew out on an “Army” bird from Cam Rahn Bay airbase. The first duty station, November, 2nd, 1969 and the last place I would see of Vietnam.
There were only a handful of us Air Force guys, I felt comfortable talking with a grunt and he was “HAPPY” to be going back to “The World” after his tour. The plane stopped at Tokyo, Japan. We were able to get disembark from the plane for about an hour an half or so. The grunt and I hung out and watched a Japanese comedy show. We chuckled and made our way back to board after walking around in the duty free area. Of course I pick up some Chives to share with dad and mom.
They didn’t know I was coming home… I got my orders only a few days before, while serving at Pleiku airbase, the Central Highlands. When I was notified it was like something you would see in a movie… surreal and unbelievable at the same time.
Processing out and unloading my stereo equipment before I left was done in one day. While at the same time some of the “brothers” I knew had gone home. And not too many of us who arrived before the Cambodian Incursion, May 1970. Wanted to talk to me after the incident in middle- of-June; and North Vietnamese Army probe on the south perimeter. That was just as well.
Any way…One of my fellow Security Policeman, by the name of “Schroeder” would provide me with a place to sleep. While at Cam Rahn, he was one of the only guys I meet in Texas for Air Force “combat” school. As perimeter guards our duty consisted of manning Observation Post (tower or bunker) positions.
Most of the guys I arrived in country in early November, 1969. Where taken back … in early June, 1970. They would remark what the hell is going on up there ? My answer, “we got a war going on!” They couldn’t believe how much I had changed from March, 1970. Then when it was time to go home… some kept their distance.
Not Airman Schroeder, we talked and drank. When it came time to leave… he got me a ride to the Aerial Port and on Armored Personnel Carrier. He walked with me from the APC to the steps on World Airways.
We never saw each other after that … all I knew was that he lived somewhere between Seattle and Tacoma, Washington. I’ve always wanted to “Thank him for being a true friend.” THANK YOU “Schroeder “
Sunday, September 14th, 2014 is 44 years in the making… never did I think I would make it to 30. I did … and flew from Anchorage, Alaska to Amsterdam, Netherlands on my way to Mallorca, Spain for that birthday! Or that I would make a documentary film about the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, 25th Anniversary, Washington D.C.; Veterans Day weekend 2007.
So today… I am grateful to all those fellow Nam vet’s who would listen and talk about an experience that became legacy that’s hard to define.
Reason for sharing this is because… my hope has been to help our fellow vet’s with PTSD (I was denied 2x by the VA). With something that defines us as HONORABLE MEN WHO LOVE THEIR COUNTRY !
On September, 2nd, 2014: Military.com published an article about “Older Veterans committing Suicide at Alarming Rates”
Those of us who have helped others, this is not the time to stop. Our brothers and sisters need us more than ever !
Thank You , God for letting me be here to help again !