Like so many of you out there, I never had the opportunity to serve my country. When I turned 19 in the Summer of 1965 the draft board decided that I should be drafted.
I really didn't have any desire to go to Vietnam and get shot at, but if it was to be, I would have gone. I was making fairly good money for that period of my life and $98.00 a month with three hots and a cot just didn't turn me on.
But like all good 19 year old's, I went, they tried again and again, but just didn't want me. They tried five times and in the end I went home rated 4F. Just in case anyone is interested, I still have my draft card. It didn't go the way of so many draft dodgers by being burned in some square, during some protest.
My Father was retired Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer. My Brother put in four years in the Air Force. My friend Dave (who we lost earlier this year) put in four years in the Air Force. A lot of the guys I worked with spent time in the service. One was in Intelligence and would never talk about Nam.
But the one guy who sticks out more than any other is my friend Steve Stratton. Steve was there at the fall of the US Embassy in Saigon.
In the picture, Steve is the tall guy in the back, to the right of the middle window
I know you've heard the stories, he was one of the last eleven off the roof of the embassy. Over the years I've watched a lot of shows on the Vietnam War just to see if I could see him in any of them. I do the same with WWII movies and documentaries to see if I could see my Dad's ship. One show called R. Lee Ermey's Vietnam showed the evacuation of the embassy and sure enough, there was Steve.
Steve told me they already knew their fate and had kissed their asses goodby, when the copter show up. I've tried to get in touch with him several times, but have never been able to connect. I hope he's well.
I honor all you that have served. Thank you for that service. You are the true hero's of this country.
A great piece for all that served past and present. I never served, because I ended up with a 314 number that put me out of reach of the draft at the time. I remember I was in college at Miss State. My roommate and I both had numbers above 300--I will say I would have served if called, but fate dealt me a lucky hand. This was during the Vietnam war. Thanks for sharing
Those were strange times weren't they? I was in a similar situation Mark and I've always felt that I abandoned my friends. Thanks for some nice remembrances.ReplyDelete
Great post! God Bless all of the veterans!ReplyDelete