Every New Years a dear friend of mine and I talk to each other. I am reminded of thespecial relationship we forged from our days together in Vietnam and having just gottenoff of the phone with him, allow me to share some of my thoughts of said relationship.Itis of a military nature, but that's what makes it special.It's for the most part unedited.
Not Just Your Average Joe
Who’s your neighbor?
Some thirty to forty years ago, millions of us “average Joes” were called upon bythe government of the United States to stem the spread of Communism world wide, andin particular, South East Asia in the 1960’s. From 1948 through 1973, this was done notonly by those who chose to volunteer their service, but also by the aid of implementingthe “military draft,” a method where the U.S. Government is issued the authority to callto service all able bodied young men to protect and defend the constitution of the countrythat we call home; the United States of America.Over 9 million men and women served in the armed forces during the VietnamWar years, with 25%, or 1,728,344 of them draftees, with 648,500 of these drafteesserving in Vietnam. Many of those who volun- teered, joined various branches of thearmed forces in hopes of getting better assignments than had they waited to be drafted.The point being here is not to criticize nor defend the “draft” or “volunteers,” for that matter but rather to emphasize the sheer number of men and women who servedduring the years of the Vietnam War and how they morphed back into society, mostly un-noticed by the populous. Most of these veterans with the exception of a few, have takenon everyday roles and some with a relish, in this gigantic stage play of life.It’s almost cliché to say that they could be your mailman, your grocer, your doctor, or even your next-door neighbor, but the fact is, they could be. It is here where I’dlike to point out some of those average Joe’s who at a time were G.I. Joe’s like myself,who’ve blended back into society and whose story of those years ago in a distant land andtheir subsequent adjustment to life “back in the world” need be told.In the telling of this story, I’ll revisit the lives of some of my closet friends, brothers in arms who I’ve had the extreme pleasure and honor to have seen again sincethose day ago. Everybody has a tale to tell and everybody has moved on in his or her ownfashion. Unfortunately for some, they’ve moved on to the hereafter. Others yet are stillhaunted by ghosts of the past, almost stuck in that time of war, and for most, well, theymay be your un-noticed next-door -neighbor, playing out their role in this play.