I read this post, written by Glenn Roberts, a residential real estate agent in Seattle Washington, this morning and had to return to it. His service, his caring and his humanity shine through. Today, 43 years later, men and women are still sharing similar experiences.
My Kodak Moment: The Vietnam War
In 1967, along with 550,000 other GI's I was in the Republic of South Vietnam. Most of us were between the ages of 18 and 22. To say we knew exactly why we were there would be a gross overstatement. Mike and I were with 23 other new guys when we were sent out to our unit in helicopters on a night just a few days before Christmas. He and I had met a few days before that and knew someway that we could team up and help each other to stay alive for the following year.
After about 4 months in the field I was promoted to squad leader. I'd been in country a day longer than Mike, so I got the job. He was a fire-team leader in my squad. There was never a bit of friction between us. He had my back and I had his.
Toward fall of that year we took our separate R&R's. When I returned, a few things had changed. We had a new lieutenant in charge of our platoon and Mike decided to be his RTO (Radio Telephone Operator). It looked like a good move on his part. Being in the platoon command post meant fewer risky details like night ambushes and perimeter listening posts. We were both getting short (less than 90 days left in country before we would go home). I continued to run my squad as usual and then we got new battalion-wide orders and we began 5 man, 3 day patrols along the Cambodian border. Each company in the 5 company battalion would send out 5 of the 5 man patrols. There were three battalions involved. Our mission was to observe the movement of North Vietnamese Troops coming into Vietnam off of the Ho Chi Minh Trail. We did well for a while until the NVA figured out what was going on and started sending out small patrols to hunt us down.
Mike and the new lieutenant were discovered one day by such a patrol and killed. Leap forward 41 years.
Our unit, 2nd of the 35th Infantry, has a website. For 30 years I was pretty much out of touch with the war but I logged in there one day in the 90's and made a comment about Mike. Then last December (2009) I got a phone call from Mike's younger brother. It seems Mike's father is still alive and so are Mike's siblings. They wanted to know if I had any pictures of Mike from Vietnam. They had none.
Everybody has stuff that they never throw away. I had a shoe box of pictures from Vietnam but nothing really good of Mike. I also had 5 little boxes of slides from then, taken with a miniature camera which I'd never really looked at. So I borrowed a slide projector (remember them) and went through the pictures. I found one and had it printed and sent it on to the family. I can't look at this picture with out smelling the odors of a 3rd world agrarian country mixed with the stench of war. There is nothing glorious about bombs busting in air. Sorry if you think that might be the case. I hear the bombs and I hear the rifle fire. I also hear Mike say, in our poncho hootch during a monsoon rain, "Thirty-one," as he laid down an ace, king and jack, ending one more hand of a card game we played endlessly. Mike was my best friend for 10 months and he was a hero to me many times over in many ways.
Discovering this picture, this year, is my Kodak moment.
This post is written as a submission to the ActiveRain 'Kodak Moments' contest. I have the chance to win the KODAK EASYSHARE M580 Digital Camera
To participate in the ActiveRain contest, visit the blog post announcing the contest from Kodak and ActiveRain.
Lake and Company Real Estate
Seattle Residential ~ I Do That
Licensed broker since 1985 offering spectacular service to buyers and sellers in greater Seattle, with particular interest in Green Lake, Ballard, Phinney Ridge, Wallingford, Ravenna, Bryant, View Ridge, Roosevelt and the University District.
Referrals from past clients and other agents always make me smile.
Glenn Roberts | Lake and Co Real estate on Facebook