Sunday, May 28, 2017

Memorial Day - 2017


I don't think that I have written anything about memorial day in a long time, if ever.  Mostly because everyone in my family came home safely (un-injured) from both WW II (my dad and my Uncle) and Viet Nam (myself and my brother).  My dad was a MSgt/1stSgt in the First Special Service Forces and my uncle made all five jumps with the 82 Airborne in WW II and also fought at the Battle of the Bulge, aka, the Battling Bastards of Bastogne. 

My brother went another route; he served undercover in Thailand; being only 5'8" and with my mom's dark complexion, black eyes and black hair he fit right in with the locals and was able to observe the movements of the North Vietnamese and report back daily via diddy-bop.  He had four marines back behind him for protection but, as he said later, they were usually bored and stoned and not really much help if the VC had ever found him. He was pretty much alone out there.  Me?  Well, I was the one left behind doing Heavy Ground Radar Maintenance - meaning that the closest thing that I came to combat was the rifle range.  I did have a .44 magnum Ruger pistol that I carried off-duty just to be cool but it didn't impress anyone.  (AN/GPS-20 and AN/GPS-90 if anyone is interested...)

Anyway, today and tomorrow should be about all of those who did NOT come home.  The thousands and thousands who gave their all so that we could be safe back here in (fairly isolated) USA.  Oh, we'll shoot off fireworks to simulate what war is all about, but anyone who has ever been subjected to artillery bombardment will tell you, it just is not the same when those shells start landing all around you.  They're really pretty up in the air, but when they start landing on the ground around you, it is the closest thing to living in hell that you will ever come.  There is no place to hide and the next shell could land right on top of you.  My dad and uncle had that kind of experience.  My brother just had to live with trying not to have the VC find him while he was living in the jungle.

If you ever get a chance to see the History Channel series on the Devil's Brigade, it is fairly accurate from what my dad told me late in life.  My dad said that the Hollywood version of "The Devil's Brigade" with William Holden was OK but it was still Hollywood and could not show the real blood and gut action of real war.  Besides, Col. Fredrick never came in at night and soaked his feet.  The realism did not come until "Saving Private Ryan" and "We Were Soldiers" later.  He died just before those came out but he might have approved of them. 

Anyway, enjoy the fireworks tonight and tomorrow.  Just remember why you are free to watch them.