Mr. Bill and Miz Mona

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Moose Pass Journal/Memorial Day Weekend 2011

Bill Says: Growing up I cut my teeth on John Wayne war movies, from films like the Fighting SeeBees to the Flying Leathernecks, and even The Green Beret. I saw such a display of comradeship among the military, the glory of battle, the honor and courage the film companies displayed on screen. But then it was my turn to experience the reality of war and for me, it was in Viet Nam. For my Dad, it was Korea and for my sons it's been the Philippines & Africa ( Jeremy), Iraq and Afghanistan ( John, Brady and Joshua).  I've learned there is little glory in war, but truly, the friendships formed in such times can be like no other. True, I saw many acts of bravery and courage, but the honor was often corrupted by man's ego, by too many men all too ready to give up other men's lives to give them a boost in their military careers. I watched as many heroes were never acknowledged or medals handed out, to men who received same but did not deserve them.

Oh, I still watch war movies, but I usually don't watch those movies made about my war- except for "We Were Soldiers". I found this a refreshingly honest portrayal of the Viet Nam War or what I remembered of it.

I still recall the faces of friends and foes, but on these Memorial Weekends I tend to think of my surviving close friends. Of Mike Kimbrel; a hefty old boy from Minnisota, who strangely looked and talked as if he had wrestled alligators in a Mississippi swamp. He never liked jungle fatigues, so he used stateside fatigues with the black thread lettering and stripes. He disliked Orientals of all nationalities and loved to get into a good scrape. Then there was Frank D. D'Mario, the Italian babe-magnet, body lifter from New Jersey. When he got excited it was hard for me to know what he was trying to say, his accent was so heavy. I secretly suspected his family was involved with Organized crime. He was always spending time in front of the mirrors, perfecting his posing for the next contest back home. He shared a metal bunk bed with me and I always wondered which of us snored the worst- he could be used as a fog horn off the New Jersey shore. The fourth member of our group and the one I knew the longest was Chuck Dudley, from either South or North Dakota- I couldn't remember. But for a time he settled in California and worked for the LAPD. We survived Viet Nam and the four of us were later stationed together in Thailand. We flew out of Danang with the end of the war aboard the same C-130. We were part of a small roll-up force and that event was a story in itself. Then Chuck got stationed at Edwards AFB, California with me, until he got out to join the LAPD. Chuck and I thought about becoming mercenaries, but we backed out. I got married, re-enlisted and he got out to become a cop.

The four of us did a lot, saw a lot and I tend to remember only the good times. We went to Viet Nam as volunteers, all Air Force cops, and were quickly disillusioned by what we found there. We disliked leaving, knowing we were abandoning the South Vietnamese and what we found in Thailand wasn't much better in the honor department. Yet, we obeyed our orders, did our jobs and greatly enjoyed each other's friendships. I've never seen these guys again, but know if I needed them they'd be here and I for them. That is what comes when friendships are formed in a fiery forge.

Yet, when I see the actual films of World War One and Two, I can freely admit we never saw the same kind of action these men went through. Our tours of duty were 12-15 months in length, but in WWII, the men were in for the duration and rarely saw a break. From those who island hopped the Pacific or the ones who went from North Africa to Normandy,France, these were true soldiers. For them a fire fight could last for weeks, not hours. They hiked over hard terrain for days on end, while we flew or patrolled short lengths of distance.

So, on Memorial Day I like to remember all those men and women who gave their lives for our country. From the time of the Revolutionary War, the Mexican-American and Spanish American War, WWI & WWII, Korea and Viet Nam, Iraq and Afghanistan, and all the smaller wars in between.

It is nice, a relief actually, to see the respect the returning veterans are getting as they return home. But I do wonder, if the veterans of Viet Nam had received such treatment, how many of them would not have killed themselves through drug and alcohol abuse or suicide, ( more than 100,000 did after returning home). But Americans learn from their mistakes. Our flags are waving, we treat our vets with respect and the men and women wear their uniforms with pride.

Enjoy the weekend, roast a hot dog, wave a flag and may God bless you all. God Bless the USA


  1. Nicely said, Dad. Thank you. For what you've done, and how you've raised me to respect and cherish these things you speak so well of.

  2. Thank you, Uncle Bill. Both for this blog and for your service. Love you.