Some folks are born made to wave the flag,
Ooo, they’re red, white and blue.
And when the band plays hail to the chief,
Ooo, they point the cannon at you, y’all!
It ain’t me, it ain’t me, I ain’t no senator’s son, Son.
It ain’t me, it ain’t me; I ain’t no fortunate one.
On a dreary, drizzly day I made one of my regular visits to the Oregon Vietnam Veterans Memorial to pay tribute. Unlike John Fogarty, I always believed the truly fortunate ones were those that returned from wartime service safe and sound.
After surviving boot camp and six weeks of electronics school, I and 90 other U.S. Navy enlisted folks were sent to six months of radioman school. As a reward for finishing first in the class, I was sent to four weeks of intense SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape) training with the Navy Seals before being shipped to Danang, Vietnam for a year. Every time I stand in front of the monument to the Oregon veterans who died in combat, I try to understand why them and not me. After all these years I still don’t have an answer, and probably never will.
On my 365th day in country I boarded a transport plane to Guam and ultimately to the United States. With a huge sigh of relief I realized there would be no more in-coming rocket attacks, no more nights in bunkers and no more armed-courier runs to downtown Danang. For me, unlike many others, life was returning to normal.
Now you understand why I regularly visit the Oregon Vietnam Veterans Memorial to pay tribute and sometimes to shed a tear.