From all over the country we came to California for our jungle indoctrination.Boys from all walks of life coming together for one common purpose - War -
Late at night in the barracks we talk to each other about our lives back home and what we expected from Viet Nam. Suddenly, we're interupted by a Viet Nam returnee who tells stories of enemy soldiers who are so high on drugs that they become numb. He tells how they keep coming at you even after being shot several times. I try to sleep as I hear one lone soldier break into tearswhile he prays aloud for his safe return home.
After three days of processing and waiting for orders, I hear my name called over the loud speakers indicating I was to leave for Viet Nam in 8 hours. It was at that moment that I realized every-day life, and the special people left back home, were soon to become nostalgic memories to be cherished.
All departing soldiers attend a deployment briefing given by some hard-nose sergeants. They give no answers to our questions about Viet Nam. Their only reply to our apprehension and curiosity, was an evasive and repetitive, "You'll find out when you get there" It would prove to be the only reasonable response.
As the doors open from the back of the C-130 cargo plane, I am overwhelmed by the beauty of theViet Nam landscape. With this backdrop I watch as soldier after soldier slowly exit the plane. I am filled with pride and patriotism knowing the sacrifice each of us was making and that some of us would not make it back.
Due to go home in a week, I count down the days with nervous anticipation, hoping nothing will cause a delay in my departure.
We (short- timers) are marched from one out- processing station to another as we prepare to finally go home.
The suspense of waiting for the orders that would send you home was unbearable. When my orders finally came, I rushed to the orderly room with uncontrolled excitement only to find that they were misplaced. I waited another day and finally headed for the airport.
Reflecting on the war, I think about friends made and friends lost. The memories are bittersweet.
Leaving Viet Nam I pray for peace. I pray harder for those still fighting.
A peaceful happiness overtakes me as I
vow to keep in my heart the realization of the fragility of life
and the importance of cherishing every moment.