Sunday, September 14, 2008

Vietnam War Veteran: He Never Was Quite Right After Returning Home

Serena at www.savvyverseandwit.blogspot.com sponsored a contest for a free copy of MRS. LIEUTENANT. To be eligible to win the book people had to leave an answer to this question:

If you're old enough to remember the Vietnam War as it was going on, what is your strongest memory of that war? If you're too young to have a personal memory of the war, what is one thing that you learned about the war from someone you know, or in school, or from reading about the war or seeing a movie about the war?

Jill of the blog http://mrstreme.livejournal.com answered the question with such a compelling response that I want to share it here:

I am too young to remember Vietnam, but my uncle served two tours there. He survived the war, but I use that term loosely. According to my mom, he never was quite right after returning home. He was sprayed with Agent Orange and suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. There are some interesting stories that I learned from his experience:

1) Once, a war protester called my grandmother to tell her that she raised a baby killer. Grandma cussed at her in Slavic and no one bothered her again.

2) Grandma made this special cake-bread called "bukta" and sent it to my uncle while he was in Vietnam. When he got the package, he expressed disgust at receiving the bukta and told his buddies that it sucked. Then, when everyone was asleep, he ate the whole thing. He loved bukta so much that he didn't want to share.

3) My uncle was not the best letter writer. When Grandma didn't hear from him after a certain period of time, she called General Westmoreland's office. She got a phone call from my uncle within hours. He was recuperating on a navy ship after being shot between the toes.

4) When my uncle disembarked from his plane at LAX on leave, someone threw feces at him.

5) My uncle had a friend from Brooklyn of Puerto Rican heritage. His name was Ricardo. While on R&R in Saigon, Ricardo and my uncle were sitting on a bench and a little girl approached them, asking if they wanted to get a shoe shine. My uncle declined and got up to buy some cigarettes, but Ricardo felt sorry for the little girl and agreed. When the little girl opened up the shoe box, it was detonated with a bomb, and both Ricardo and the little girl were killed - right in front of my uncle's eyes. He literally had Rico on him - and I think his spirit always remained with my uncle.

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1 comment:

Anna said...

What a moving story. It brought tears to my eyes.