Veterans Day, once Armistice Day, on 11-11-11 and I’ve spent the day trying not to think too much about the veterans in my life. My husband is traveling and I miss him. Two of my brothers served in the military. Thinking about their service makes me sad. One, the elder of the two was almost sent to Vietnam in ’63. Thank heavens he ended up spending all his time overseas in Seoul, Korea.
A cousin of mine suffered a head wound in Vietnam and ended up with a plate in his head.
Another brother of mine wasn’t so lucky and was sent to Vietnam in late 1967. He was shot in Hue, which was also where I saw him on the 6 o’clock news walking across the street, without a helmet, a couple days before he was shot, but he wasn’t gone from the fighting all that long. He returned to Vietnam and served a few more months there in some of the worst fighting of the war. On his birthday on August 4th of 1968 he was in Khe Sahn and it was horrific. The battle was a blood bath. A buddy had been hit and he was carrying him to the chopper, a medical evacuation helicopter, and as he was slightly bent over after lifting his fellow Marine into the chopper, which allowed torso exposure under the flak jacket, when something, I’m not sure what the names of the various types of artillery explosives are, exploded behind him and large amounts of shrapnel came up under his flak jacket and cut through his back and abdomen.
The medics on board just grabbed him and pulled him into the chopper as it took off. If he had not essentially been hit in a medical unit transport, he would have died within a minute or two on the battle field. It was six months before I would see him. He was stabilized enough for transport and the majority of his surgeries were then done in Japan. He was then transferred to Great Lakes Naval Base. I was 11 and 12 when all this was going down. It changed my life forever, but not as much as my brother’s. He recovered as much as anyone can. He is lacking in trust and is a bit paranoid. His hips and gut have some problems.
I’m so freaking glad my family survived their military experiences, but like those folks from most military families, the pride we have in our loved ones is tempered by the horrors we know they have faced and the sorrow in our hearts.