Vietnam Veteran’s Day, 2017

Today is Vietnam Veterans Day is recognized in Colorado.

I think of how I ironic and naïve at 19 years old. That my life journey continued from Lowry AFB to Pleiku airbase. There was “Combat Training” at Lackland AFB, TX situated outside of San Antonio. The 30 day leave that was automatically given to all members of the Armed Forces. At least that was the accepted norm.

I think of how I ironic and naïve at 19 years old. That my life journey continued from Lowry AFB to Pleiku airbase. There was “Combat Training” at Lackland AFB, TX situated outside of San Antonio. The 30 day leave that was automatically given to all members of the Armed Forces. At least that was the accepted norm.

After arriving at Cam Ranh Bay airbase, RVN. I knew I was in a combat zone. Not until after the first rocket attack, sometime on November 14th,1969. Those first rounds landed about 100 yards or more away on the Air Force Hospital, helicopter pad. I knew something was up.

Not until sometime in early February 1970, at tower position that was about a quarter mile East of Dong Ba Thin, U.S. Army helicopter base. It was around 6 PM or so. I had been taught by other’s “If you see muzzle flashes, someone is trying to kill you.” Meant you were dead.

Or if you saw muzzle flashes some distance away from your position. Meant, rocket or mortar attack. I happen to look across, saw these some distance from “DBT” as some of us called it.
Panning the area with my binoculars, happen to look across to the interior of the camp. Saw a couple of explosions away from the alert Huey’s. Then saw aircrews scrambling to launch their bird’s. Then I saw two more explosions and they were nowhere to be found.

This was a major wake-up call, and shortly after that notice a local “VC” along the Eastern perimeter of “DBT.” I could see him firing and I called for permission to fire on him.

“Negative,” said the voice at the command post. Then a moment later, heard a buzzing sound pass my ear!

That afternoon was the rehearsal for Pleiku that I would experience after being reassigned in March, 1970. I would spend the next several months. Away from the ‘rear.”

What I have described is what still percolates to the surface, 47 years later. Some years it’s not so bad. Other time’s it was bad, depression and all the negative feelings.  Asking  why.
This year, there seems to be closure, yet it never is.

The organic growth of sharing today’s blog entry. Denver Open Media invited me to participate in broadcasting “Weekend to Remember, 25th Anniversary, Vietnam Veterans Memorial.” Channel 56 at 7 PM, Mountain Daylight Savings Time.
While at the same time, I want to post a link about Major Michael Davis O’Donnell, wrote a poem, 1 January 1970 at Dak To and Pleiku (Camp Holloway), serving with the U.S. Army, 52nd Aviation Battalion, 17th Aviation Group, 1st Aviation Brigade, 170th Aviation Company.

http://voiceseducation.org/content/major-michael-davis-o%E2%80%99donnell-american

I didn’t know of his poem until I saw the 1987 movie about “Hamburger Hill” was at the end of the movie. I was with a couple of friends, there was almost no one at the movie. When I read it, I cried, just as the tears are filling my eyes. As I write this post.

If You are Able

If you are able,
save them a place
inside of you
and save one backward glance
when you are leaving
for the places they can
no longer go.

Be not ashamed to say
you loved them,
though you may
or may not have always.
Take what they have left
and what they have taught you
with their dying
and keep it with your own.

And in that time
when men decide and feel safe
to call the war insane,
take one moment to embrace
those gentle heroes
you left behind.

Major Michael Davis O’Donnell,
1 January 1970, Dak To

 

 

 

 

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About pleiku1970

My service at Pleiku, 1970 is significient because of the Cambodian Incursion. Close proximity to exit routes from the Ho Chi Minh Trail and the "Tri-Border area of Laos,Cambodia and Vietnam. This Air Force assignment was different than most, because of the isolation.
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One Response to Vietnam Veteran’s Day, 2017

  1. Pingback: Vietnam Veteran’s Day, 2017 | afnamvet

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