49 years today - Cai Nua, January 12, 1969

Fall in. Answer up. Be accounted for. Post a memory, photo, greeting or question. If nothing else post that you are still alive because some of us are likely to be glad you did.
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49 years today - Cai Nua, January 12, 1969

Postby Randyw » Fri Jan 12, 2018 4:02 pm

Each year at this time I do spend some time recalling the night that had quite an impact on me. This past year it has been more than one day, that I contemplated the events of that night and remember those I fought with and those whose young lives were cut short, in the blink of an eye for some, and under a slower more agonizing end to their life. Since I have been trying to make peace with those and other events by applying for health benefits with the VA I have been literally forced to remember, to dredge up, to unpack memories I had saved for just one day a year in the past; to open up, look at, and put back away. However, since those who know much more about these types of ailments than I do, suggest, even demand, I lay open those wounds again, talk about them, bring out the emotions, the details, the terror, guilt, and vulnerability of those events and come to terms with them. It's better they tell me.

Oh, so much easier said than done. However, as I am moving forward with this verbal therapy, I do believe it is making my memories easier to bring out, to talk about, to remember and it is leaving me with; not so much more control, but acceptance, and a since of knowing I was not alone. Alone was a key word when I began this road trip. My shrink says, it's not just those of us who served, fought, and died in Vietnam, but so it has been with combat soldiers of all wars. We get the call, we train, we go, we fight, and if we are lucky, smart, or experienced enough, we come back home. Some, in one piece, some in pieces, and some, like me, in one piece with some pieces missing in action.

Still today is the day I normally remember those sights and sounds of combat, those who fought and those who died. I always try to think of what if, what could have, what should have, and a prayer to those who can no longer remember that night, or perhaps they do remember for eternity, I don't really know. Those thoughts used to really bother me. Not so much today. A good thing I believe.

The main thing I always think about is the difference a day made, one day it's just another day in the jungle, in the paddies, and the next so many dead, so many wounded. The odd thing about our war, and perhaps all wars, was once you were wounded, and certainly if you succumbed to your wounds, we all went in different directions; to other hospitals, to other countries, to other duty stations, back to home. For the most part, we never crossed paths again. It took me a long time to decide to go to a reunion, it was a lot of things to me, good, bad, and ugly, however, it was quite therapeutic. I just couldn't shake the quilt of seeing everyone. Don't ask, I am still working on that and I am definitely a work in progress. I just could not work up the courage to go to a second one.

Next year is the 50th anniversary of January 12, 1969, and Jerry White, in his capacity as sort of our den mother, is kind enough to pass on the obituary's on our fallen comrades and we are not getting any younger. There are two wars prior to Vietnam where we continue to see fewer and fewer survivors, WWII and Korea. I don't know if there are many if any Bataan soldiers left and our brothers from the Frozen Chosen I am sure are dwindling as well. I just always imagine a world where those who gave all were still alive to be part of this Social Media thing and everyone could correspond at will.

Still, for me, it continues to be a day of retrospect, except now, faces have become clearer and details a little more sharp. Actually that does bother me some, however, I can begin to deal with them on a personal level where I never even dared before.

So to all of you, I thank you for your service, and those who fell beside me, this is a day I pray, again, for you and yours. I hope where ever you are; you are at peace and whole.

God Bless,

Randy Whitaker
1968 - 1969
Delta Company

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