Chapter Sixteen

I’m going to use this last chapter to tie up some loose ends, make a few comments, etc. It may be a bit disorganized but if you will be patient with me, I think you will find it worth the effort.

I’m not sure if the dates I mentioned in this account will add up right, but I do know that I spent a total of 356 days in South Viet Nam, just 9 short of a full year. Somewhere in those last few months I got my orders for my next duty station, the USS Charles F. Adams (DDG-2), which was home ported in Mayport, Florida (a suburb of Jacksonville, Florida). For Linda’s sake, I had been hoping for shore duty but that was not to be – at least I didn’t get put on an aircraft carrier.

I was extremely “wired” when I got back and it would probably been best if we had scheduled our wedding for later (we got married on October 10, 1970), giving me more time to unwind, but we had no way of knowing how I would be. Fortunately I have never had the nightmares or flashbacks that others have had. I did sit straight up from a dead sleep once when an ambulance went by our house (memories of a Red Alert), but the strange part about that was that it happened a couple years later, after we were out of the Navy and living back in Michigan on Eastman Rd. across from the church. At least I didn’t make a run for a bunker in my underwear.

Prior to going to Viet Nam, my only thoughts about it were that I did not want to go there. I was 19 years old (barely) and not especially interested in politics or world events - I had a good paying job with General Motors and I would have been happy to stick with that forever. It was boring but better then the farm work I had done all through high school. However, I did have to go to Viet Nam and that changed my perspective considerably. Especially during the first part of my tour, while I was in Da Nang, I had the opportunity to speak with many Vietnamese, see how they lived, and hear first hand what the war had done to them and their families. And I reached the conclusion that the United States was lying to us. We did not go over there to free the people or protect the average Vietnamese person from communism – we went over there to protect the rich. The only Vietnamese who stood to gain from our presence were the businessmen and the social elite. The average Vietnamese civilian was only concerned about putting food on the table – keeping his family fed and sheltered. It just didn’t matter to him or his family what the politics of their leaders were, except when (as often happened) those politics started getting him and his family killed.

I really hope that some day our country will learn that you cannot dictate freedom. True freedom has to be earned, not given. If the people of a nation wish to rebel against an oppressive leader or system, they have to be willing to fight and die for it, if necessary. I have no problem with the U.S. supporting a nation that is fighting for freedom, as long as we stick to supplies and materials. But the minute we send our own people over there to fight, the cause is lost. They have to do it themselves! And if they can’t do it themselves, they are not ready for freedom.

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