Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day 2008
I remember...

I remember my Uncle Eddy who was in the Navy during world war II. He made it home and smoked himself to death. I remember my Uncle Jack who was a medic in WWII. It wasn't until he died a few years ago that I learned he was a decorated hero. But mostly, I remember the guys and women who were in "my war." It seems as if each generation has one.

Although I was alive during WWII and Korea, the one we call 'Nam was mine. A fruitless effort criminally (this is data, not political opinion, which I don't do) managed, we fought our war with both hands tied behind our backs. Thankfully, I served as a flight surgeon and never had to point a gun at a human being.

I remember the roaring engine of the F-105 as it shot down the runway slamming me back into my ejection seat. I remember flying into North Vietnam in a KC-135 re fueler in an attempt to save a shot-up F4, then watching the fighter glide off and it's two man crew eject. I remember the old man taking that huge gas station down in a wide spiral so we could watch an incredible rescue operation as both F-4 crew members were snatched off the Ho Chi Mihn trail.

I remembered how several of my pilots were shot down over North Vietnam, rescued and (according to regs) brought to me for interview. I kept a bottle of whiskey in a drawer to help them stop shaking.

I remember myself getting drunk in celebration of a pilot (make that several pilots) finishing 1oo counters before going home alive to their families. I also remember scraping the remains of 4 college age kids off the runway because someone had screwed up.

I remember, painfully, the heart break of a man who was scheduled to have leave to see his baby born (it was a high risk pregnancy, and he didn't have to have come to the war until after...but I digress). Instead of standing down his last day, he flew downtown (Hanoi) where he was shot down and captured. I never heard another thing about him.

I also have a bitter memory of being transfered to a California base and thinking the war was over for me...until I had to join a team that was going to a local family to tell them that their son had died in the war. I was asked to go along because of the father's heart condition. I can still hear the bell ringing, a small girl answering and seeing our uniforms before turning back into the house and yelling, "It's Johnny!" She had known immediately what we were there to do.

I remember. A part of me insists on remembering. A part of me wishes to hell it could forget.

Paddle safe...
DS

8 comments:

suzette said...

a tear runs down my cheek as i think about what you and countless others have gone through. God bless you.

DaveO said...

Great post Dick. Its a day to reflect on past wars and the efforts to avoid future ones. My dad, a WWII vet, always talked about the day when the American Legion and VFW would disband due to lack of eligible members.

Kristen said...

And we remember you, Dick.

canoelover said...

Thanks for making it real, Silbs. Memorial Day is about memories.

Hope you enjoyed the Shack.

Silbs said...

The shack was fine and the hospitality very much appreciated.

Silbs said...

Thanks to all who took time to comment on this day's importance.

Stan Mac Kenzie said...

I admire you and your comrades bravery. I barely know who you really are but I feel your country was lucky to have you. Happy belated memorial day. I really enjoyed this post.

Stan

Silbs said...

Thanks, Stan. Kind words, indeed.