Thursday, November 11, 2010

                  The Only True Growth Industry?
For two years of my life I worked for the United States Air Force. One of those years was spent as head flight surgeon for the 354th tactical fighter squadron. It was an F-105 group, and the missions flown were over North Viet Nam, often Hanoi. I still have lots of memories of that year.

I remember the roar of the after burners being lit, the tremendous g-forces when we rolled or steeply pulled up. I remember the smell of JP-4, the kerosene-like fuel we used. But, mostly, I remember the sights. I remember the Thai natives, especially the ones with whom I became friends. I remember the jungle and  the fires seen around the countryside at night where the huts were located. Even more, I remember rows and rows of fighters and stacks and stacks of bombs. But what I remember most were the men with whom I flew.
Brighter than average, and more psychologically stable, they had degrees in engineering, political science and everything else. Many did not support that war but did their jobs anyway. They came in all shapes and sizes and a variety of temperaments. In fact, the only traits they seemed to share were their fear of me grounding them and their love of flying. I remember those guys and wonder where they are now.

Many would be in their 70's. Some, I know, died over there, and some went into the Hanoi Hilton and were never accounted for (as far as I know). In any event, that time permanently changed me and is part of who I am today. When I see a Viet Nam Vet, I still welcome him home (because we never were). When I see a Korean War veteran, or one from WW II, I shake their hands. I do all that because we share a brotherhood that those who never experienced war can never understand.
So, today is their day and, more than ever, I think of all the young souls that never came home to wives, partners or kids. And I wonder if it was all worth the terrible price. Perhaps some wars were more "noble" than others. I suspect we all have our opinions. Be that as it may, I never questioned the hearts and bravery of the men and women who have served and serve to this day all over the world. Will these wars never stop? Where can I buy stock in this growth industry?

Paddle safe...
DS

7 comments:

Jeffrey said...

A captivating blog post. Thank you for sharing this part of yourself. Jeffrey Fillion

JohnB said...

Thank you!

Word . . .

Silbs said...

Thank you for serving, JB
Hey, Jeffrey, good to hear from you.

Duncan and Joan said...

Thoughtful words, Silbs, thank you for that. Something else we share. Duncan.

Captn O Dark 30 and Super Boo said...

- the emotion I am feeling right now, oh my; call 911 I need an emotional rescue. ManOman you nailed it; great post.

Silbs said...

Thanks for all the kind words. Sometimes I want to sit with others and share the experiences. Then, I see my kids and grandchildren and want to erase it all from my mind.

Steadfast Ahoy! said...

Poinant writing. Even the painful memories are important and need to be shared. Thank you.
Rosemary