While I am not a Veteran, we come from a long line of Veteran's, like my Brother who is serving in the Army now, as well as some of which who have given their life in defense of this country, and the conflicts leading up to the formation of our country.
Timothy Johnson, Jr (Killed in the French and Indian War)
Joesph Warren (killed in the Revolutionary War)
Frank Flannery (killed in the Civil War)
Bud Washburn (killed in Germany in World War II)
But that being said, my heart has a special place for a man named Butch, killed in Vietnam. This was a letter I wrote to him a few years ago to be published in the local paper for Veterans. THIS IS NOT COPIED AND PASTED, it is of my own heart and hand.
I know you remember that day well, 44 summers ago standing in the rice patty with my father as you heard the thud of a bullet hitting a body. Nanoseconds later you heard the rifle report and for a split second you and my father knew one of you had been hit, but was not sure which one. Unfortunately it was you.
You never returned to the United States again, even though you made it through boot camp, became best friends with my Dad and did two tours of duty in Vietnam. To die three days before your return home hardly seems fair.
The Survivor Guilt is deep within my dad, even now, but he picked himself up by his boot laces and did well these past 44 years. He has used his medic training to save two lives, doing tracheotomy’s on the side of the road to save car accident victims. He also opened his home to hundreds of foster children, had three children of his own and adopted six more. He’s done some good despite the memories of Vietnam.
The sad thing is, I will never know your real name. Dad never talks about Vietnam and it is too painful to ask what your real name is. Butch is all I will ever know.
I have touched your name once though, on the wall in Washington, DC. I was too small to remember the name, but small enough so that I could be put on my Uncles shoulders and rub your name with chalk onto a piece of paper as Dad cried…really cried. I had never seen my Dad cry before, but of all the names…one name…your name…touched him the most.
Despite 44 years of silence, one thing needs to be said. Not from my Dad, but from me Butch. Thanks for taking that bullet for my Dad.
Written by NoSmoke, son of a combat disabled Vietnam Veteran