18 Year Old REAL Hero
All the negative talk coming from a certain politician about Gold Star families and prisoners of war being losers pisses me off. So I want to relate the story of an 18 year old guy from Philly who took up the call to duty while this certain politician wrangled deferment after deferment.
Recently I was able to visit my home town of Philadelphia and saw lots of family and had a great time. I also had an opportunity to visit with a fellow I haven’t seen in over 20 years. He is the husband of one of my wife’s friend. We always got along, but on this trip we created a special bond, or at least I did. I won’t give his name because I don’t think he would want that. So let’s just call him Sarge.
Sarge never spoke about his military service. I knew he retired from the Army and then spent some years in the Air Force, but other than that I knew nothing. He always remained a quite hero.
When Sarge was 18 he volunteered for the US Army. As I was to learn he became a Green Beret, Ranger and a Paratrooper. He had two terms in Vietnam in the early 70s during some of the fiercest fighting of the War. He was awarded the Silver Star for Valor, the Bronze Star for Valor, several other medals for valor and the Purple Heart. I posted a pic of the medals Sarge accumulated during his military service. They are not all shown in the photo, especially the Silver Star and he would not talk about how he won that medal.
After Vietnam he was sent to South America performing duties for the war against drugs and then he headed up efforts to house and then integrated Cuban refugees into US society. He had 9 MOS’s (jobs) in service including being a Military Police Officer.
When he came home from Vietnam he was called a baby killer, murderer and had no thanks for his service other than the medals he received. He had to leave the service because of illness which turned out to be the effect of Agent Orange. It took years for the Government to admit this, but they finally did. He faced hardship as a civilian, but was able to put three sons through college, one becoming a military officer, one a Doctor and a Lawyer. As he aged he started to suffer from the affects of PSTD, often having nightmares from his combat days.
He doesn’t bitch about it. He copes and moves on with his life. When I told him I was never in combat being an Air Force photo tech, he told me “we all had our jobs to do.”
There are a couple of lessons here. One is you never know what horrors people have experienced unless you take the time to interact with them. The second lesson is you should not keep quite when buffoons belittle the sacrifices of our military men and women and their families. This includes police officers, firemen and EMTs.