I never was called on to carry the wounded, nor was I ever in need of same. I witnessed my share in the most unpopular conflict of our time however, and called in Medivac Hueys almost daily to evacuate the wounded out of Vietnam jungles and rice paddies. These pilots were the most fearless I ever saw. What Korea launched with M*A*S*H helicopters was fine tuned in Southeast Asia. There was seldom time for these Dust Off crews to wash out the stretcher decks. When the local Life Flight is overhead today, it is haunting and carries me back in time.
WWI, the war to end all wars didn’t. WWII was nothing less than the world gone insane! Then Korea, Vietnam and other various conflicts had our military continent hopping. When it was my turn to test my brand new Army Aviation wings in Vietnam, I got to come back home after 12 months in country. We all had calendars on the wall over our cots marking off the days.
My father couldn’t . . . . wouldn’t come home until WWII was won in the last unconditional surrender by our enemies that we will ever see. Dad served 11 Combat Patrols on 3 different submarines in the Pacific. I was 10 months old before he and I ever met. My Uncle Jim did not come home at all. Not under a flag in a box or any other way. Lost at sea was the official report. My daughter was a Navy Combat Medic during the Desert Storm era. My son in law was separated from his young family via tours in the Middle East multiple times. In war or peace, I honor my brothers in arms. I wish for all of us a day of contemplation, gratitude, remembering and prayer tomorrow on Veterans Day, the 11th day of the 11th month. I still see an occasional WWII veteran at the store or the VA clinic I frequent, wearing their ball caps humbly but with a jaunty tilt. There are not so many left, so when you come across one of these, the greatest generation, offer a hand and look deeply into his or her eyes as you say thank you.