Sunday, November 11, 2012
Special Thank You To All Who Served
Happy Veteran's Day! Today we pay tribute to all who served in our military. The sacrifices many have made over the years have gone unnoticed. In today's climate of 24/7 news, we know much about what goes on and our military is largely respected, honored and appreciated.
It's difficult for those my age and younger to understand, because we didn't live through those times - but there was a time when that wasn't the case in our great country. I think specifically of the Vietnam War and the lack of support for the war. Over the years, I have heard horror stories about how our troops were treated - not just abroad, but when they returned home from war.
There are many veterans in my family - my grandfather, four of my uncles, my Father in Law, and two of my cousins. All of the branches with the exception of the Coast Guard are represented - Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines.
Of all my family members who have served, one of my uncles suffered significant injuries in Vietnam. These are his words:
"I served as one of an eight man squad on permanent jungle patrol, focusing on long range reconnaissance working the Vietnam-Cambodian border. This area was used by the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) and the VietCong (VC) for sanctuary. Our primary goal was to root them out, and the troops who were defending them.
On the morning of May 19, 1970, my squad and I walked into an ambush. They cut us down. Two of my squad members were dead, and two were severely wounded, including myself. The other four squad members were walking wounded. That was the end of my combat career.
I was sent by chopper medivac to the hospital in Vietnam for 10 days, then I was transferred to a hospital in Tokyo, Japan. I spent approximately 52 days in bed as a result of my injuries.
Upon my return to the United States, I spent the rest of my military career as a Training NCO. I served four more years Inactive Reserve and later received an Honorable Discharge".
Here's what my uncle doesn't really tell you. He was severely injured, he lost a kidney. He had over 50 bullet holes in his legs. Occasionally he will tell me the story of one of his squad members giving him a cigarette while he laid there waiting on the chopper, knowing he was bleeding to death and would probably die on that field in Vietnam. He earned a Purple Heart for his sacrifice and service, and it was stolen from him in that hospital in Vietnam.
Our family didn't know much about his injuries for quite some time. Again, you have to remember the times - it was May 1970. It was weeks before they even knew he was injured, and my Meme certainly had no idea of the extend of his injuries, or she certainly would have had a heart attack. When the family finally knew of my uncle's injuries and their extent, he was beginning to get better and it wasn't long before he was able to get home on leave.
THESE are the sacrifices that we have to be sure are never forgotten. Today, I would like to thank all of our veterans for their service to our country. Thank you, Uncle Ronald for your sacrifice on that field in Vietnam. You are the example to which our young men and women should aspire.
Please thank a Veteran today.