Leaving Behind and Coming Home
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On this page are random pictures that I did not use.  For me, they are part of what I think about nearly everyday and a part of what I have become.  I went to Vietnam as a 19 year old second lieutenant gung ho to fight for God and Country.  Towards the end of my 18 month tour, I had mixed emotions about what I was going to do with the rest of my life.  I joined the army right after high school and became an officer.  To remain one, I had to get a college degree and so that was in the mix.

But, in April of 1968 after getting my orders to return home in May, I spent a lot of time contemplating what I would become.  I had settled on a life as a priest or a politician.  Both are somewhat alike.  I was beginning to have mixed feelings about Vietnam and our country going to war at all, especially a war that was essentially an internal conflict between competing power bases. 

Today is July 1 as I write this.  There were a lot of prophetic things I wanted to say to end here.  But, after working nearly two weeks on this I am about worn out emotionally from looking at the slides.  Suffice it to say that I was changed by Vietnam.

All the pictures are "thumbnails".  To see a larger version, double click the small picture.

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I was young.  On my shoulder is the famed "cookie cutter" patch of the 9th Infantry Division.  I was with the Ninth for the entire time I was an officer and in Vietnam. 
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Here's an idea of just how skinny I was.  I am holding a BAR or Browning Automatic Rifle, a cross between a machine gun and rifle.  The weapon was a WW II staple and was still used by the Vietnamese. Viet Cong had slipped into a South Vietnamese position near us and blew up a lot of the outpost.
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I have no earthly idea why I look so bad in this picture.   I am holding my weapon. Our mainstay individual weapon was the M-16.   However, if you captured a Russian made AK-47, you would probably carry that with you as it was an excellent rifle.  This gives you a good idea of our tent area.   This one was placed above a rice paddy.
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This is a medal ceremony and I am receiving one.  This was an Army Commendation Medal for Valor.  I received two more ARCOM's for Achievement and a Bronze Star for Service.
the wall.jpg (53040 bytes) We left behind 58,000 men.  They are inscribed on "The Wall".  I have been there many times.  While mayor of Clarksdale, a friend of mine called and asked if I saw a picture in our paper.  I had not looked at it and had to look closely and closer.  On it was my name.  Actually, this was a young Specialist E-4 from South Carolina. I did not know him. 

home.jpg (35770 bytes) This picture was taken the month I came home, May, 1968.  My Father, who was a WW II combat vet, told me in no uncertain terms that a Coke was still going to cost me a dime (that was 1968).  And, then he put me to work painting the house as if I had never gone.  That was a humbling experience.  My Father is on the ladder working, my brother Robert is in the foreground fooling around and Pat has his hands on his hips watching and wondering how the work is getting done...nothing has changed in nearly 40 years.






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