Last month my wife and I went to see the movie "1917." We understood that it was a good World War I story, with excellent cinematography.
Last month my wife and I went to see the movie "1917." We understood that it was a good World War I story, with excellent cinematography. We were correct on both counts.
What we didn't expect is that it would trigger memories from my tour of duty in Vietnam. I just never know when something lurking in the dark recesses of my mind will resurface, especially from that seminal time in my life.
After the movie ended, as I sat in the rear of the theater regaining my composure and waiting for everyone else to leave, I realized that God gave me all I could handle back in 1970/1971 - no more and no less. With my wife sitting there beside me, I simply felt grateful to have survived myself and the war.
The experience prompted me to write about Valentines Day 1971 in my February Food for Thought piece. Like other special days back on the home front, Valentines Day in the city of Qui Nhon was just another day in the 'Nam.
I was one of the fortunate ones, blessed to come home in good health, raise a family and enjoy grandchildren. Others were not so lucky - so many sacrificed their lives and limbs.
Although 1971 was towards the end of the war, the number of Americans killed or wounded in action that year was greater than in 1965, the first year of ground combat for U.S. infantry units.
In the city of Qui Nhon, Operation Keystone - U.S. troop reduction and withdrawal - had begun. The more our military presence diminished, the more dangerous the city became.
In that environment, despite having a wife and four little ones at home, I was more concerned with proving my courage than playing it safe. What was I thinking?
Fortunately, God had other plans for me. I swear His hand reached down into the quagmire that was Qui Nhon and kept me safe from harm.
He protected my body, but my mind was another thing entirely. The adrenaline rush experienced as a Military Police duty officer impacted me for years after the war, as did the survivor guilt which ate away at my soul. Now, in my 70s, I am finally at peace thanks to my loving wife and family, our Vet to Vet sessions at the Brockton VA and my association with a group of Plymouth Vietnam veterans and their Welcome Home Huey Helicopter float.
I share this with you for two reasons. First, I'm quite sure my experience is not dissimilar to many of my comrades who returned home to an ungrateful nation after the war. Vietnam Veterans Day is celebrated on March 29th and my hope is that you will take some time this month to reflect upon their honorable service, during such a turbulent time in our nation's history.
Second - there will be a fundraiser on April 25 at VFW Post 1822, located on 22 Seven Hills Road in Plymouth, to help our ad hoc Vietnam veterans group make repairs to our Huey Helicopter float. The Huey is the iconic symbol of the Vietnam War. Our float has been well received at parades and static displays throughout the South Shore for a number of years, but is now in need of an upgrade, particularly with Plymouth's 400th celebration just around the corner.
The Northern Poker League will conduct a Texas Hold 'Em tournament at the Plymouth VFW on April 25. There will be a 1st, 2nd, 3rd and high hand pay out, plus a 50/50 raffle and a silent auction. Light refreshments will be served with a pay as you go bar. A good time should be had by all. Hope to see you there.
Despite being in the middle of repairs to our Huey, we are being pressed into service once again on March 15, when we'll be marching in Scituate's St. Patrick's Day Parade. It would be great to see you on the Irish Riviera. Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Brian F. Sullivan is a senior fellow at the American Leadership and Policy Foundation. He is a retired Army Military Police lieutenant colonel and former risk program management specialist for the Federal Aviation Administration. He has more than 30 years of security experience and was presented with a Platinum REMI at the Houston International Film Festival in 2011 for his narration of the aviation security documentary, “Please Remove Your Shoes.”