To the editor:
Sipping my coffee this morning and reading my Gloucester Daily Times, the story and ad for Saturday’s “Operation: Commitment To our Troops” program sent me back in time.
It was in July 1971 that I took a lonely flight from Seattle back home to Somerville. My ears were still ringing from
artillery rounds and impacting rockets. I could not close my eyes without seeing firebase Vandergrift. All I got was icy stares from the people racing through the airport in Seattle, and Chicago.
Even the airport lounge bartenders had no offers of a drink or a handshake. “We do not care that you just came from Vietnam, no driver’s license no service,” was all I heard.
I found my way home, but I did not stay long, I had the need to report back to duty to finish my time in
Germany. I wore my uniform with pride for over a year in Germany received my Honorable discharge as a Spec/5. It was in December 1972 that I was walking through the New Jersey airport that the icy stares returned once again no handshakes, “no state driver’s license no service; your military ID is not good here.”
In 1974, unemployed and seeking a job I sat in front of a desk as “the hiring man” read my application. Part time jobs all though high school. Then I enlisted into (as in joined not drafted) the Army. The man looked me in the
eyes and said “You do not have a work history. We cannot call part-time jobs in high school and being in the Army as real jobs. Sorry we cannot hire you.”
I did not leave quietly, and in 1975, with the fall of Saigon, I ended up in the VA Hospital in Boston the beginning of years
of therapy trying to make any logic of the Vietnam War.
That big colorful ad with the silhouettes of five solders brought all that pain back.
The good thing is, maybe this time it will be different, the politicians make the decisions; they start the wars right or wrong.
The “troops” pay the price; they fight the wars right or wrong, their hearts and minds in the right place just trying to protect the land they love.
I pray that this time, as Americans, we can get it right and take care of all of our veterans.
Heights at Cape Ann, Gloucester