Thomas Rene, Vietnam veteran
Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
I was with the 213th Assault Support Helicopter Company(Blackcats)
at Phu Loi. I was just remembering one night when a rocket attack
took place. About four of us were sitting in our hootch smoking
some pot that was so strong it could curl your toes, listening
to Jethro Tull. I was sitting in a top bunk when one rocket hit
about 50 or 60 yards away. The concussion knocked me from the
bunk to the floor and I remember with humor a buddy looking over
at me and saying "that must have been some ass-kicking pot".
We were all so young and the thought of dying sometimes seemed
to never entered your thoughts even though you knew it was always
there at anytime around the corner. We did our job's the best
we could. Thats why we were there.
For many years after that war I was bitter at the country for
the way we Viet Vets were treated. I sure didn't respect authority
after that experiance and the way the politics of it played out.
At the time I was never really against people who were against
the war. In hindsight I guess I was too. I remember at the time
thinking that it probably took as much guts and conviction avoiding
the draft and for example going to Canada as it did to get on
that plane and go over there. Some people seem to forget how it
was back then and where society was at. Time seems to change perspectives.
Thats why I think it is so hypocritical watching the politicians
today pointer their fingers at each other over who went, who didn't,
why, how, etc etc., guestioning each other patriotism in cynical
partisan ways. That war wasn't that cut and dry. I guess you can
tell I still have a little resentment I carry around.
I think of and say a prayer almost every day for my 50+ thousand
friends brothers and sisters whose lives ended as a result of
that war for this country. They are the real Patriots. I will
not forget them. Thats how I will honor them in my life until
I'm six foot under.