I love to get letters from my good friend, Dick
[who also served multiple tours of duty in Vietnam].
He has a knack for ferreting out my inner feelings
that I usually keep hidden deep inside my inner heart.
We speak a special language that only combat Vets
who have been in Vietnam understand. Thank you, Bro. Dick.
Aloha TERRIBLE TOM, the DEADLY DoorGunner,
Way you go my brother, baptized in the blood-bonding brotherhood of close,
deadly combat. Tell it like it is!!!!
Living in the stressful environment of a combat zone and sharing the hardships
in common, we all bonded and generated pet names for each other. Even though
some of the names may not have been fit for mixed company, they expressed a
measure of respectful affection. Back then, about all we had going for us was
each other and our weapons. There were many nights out in Charlie country when
my rifle stock served for a pillow. Addressing a combat-buddy with a "cute"
name always brought smiles all around, while helping to lighten the deadly
seriousness of our situation.
A number of your good readers may never have experienced endless weeks of living
in the oppressive, sweltering heat of the tropics of Vietnam, being bone weary
tired, constantly hungry and always sweat-soaked dirty, with the ever-present
biting bugs at your eyes, nose and ears. After all, they are the protected and
sleep peacefully in their beds at night while rough men stand at the ready to do
violence on their behalf. We may forgive them, for they know not what they
Our brotherhood of mutual understanding in our willingness to suck-up hardship
-- DUTY -- HONOR -- COUNTRY -- extends far and wide. And it shows up when we
least expect it to do so. I always wear one of the newer digital camo BDU
patrol caps. It is decorated on the right side with a MACV patch pin and a US
flag pin. The left side displays a Combat Infantryman Badge, an Airborne
Paratrooper Wings and a black and gold Ranger Tab. Every so often, a fellow Vet
will comment about my cap and start a conversation about his contribution to our
wonderful nation. Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom, A-stan
Freedom, it matters not. We are instantly bonded by our love of country and our
willingness to serve Her needs. "we all gave some, but some gave all."
Yesterday afternoon, while in the grocery store, I saw a GI dressed in his camo
BDUs and said, "That's a good looking uniform, Trooper, wear it with pride."
When he turned to face me, I saw that his rank was that of a an O-7, Brig
General. Having just addressed a General as a Troop, I felt so SMALL that I
wanted to crawl away in complete shame.
As it turned out, he is the Deputy Adjutant General of the Hawaiian National
Guard. He asked about my service in Vietnam, gave praise for my Combat Grunt
experiences and presented me with one of his personal AG challenge coins. I
tried to tell him I didn't do anything to deserve this honor. His reply was
that to have survived multiple tours as Combat Grunt was enough. That we
Vietnam Vets never received the recognition that we had earned the hard way,
through our gift to our nation of our sweat, blood and guts. I became so
choked-up by this exchange that I could hardly thank him properly. We were
generations apart, but the brotherhood of brothers-in-arms was instant and
mutually deep. I thank God we have this going for us as part of our American
OK, TERRIBLE TOM, just felt it necessary to pass along my support for whatever
term you select to address yourself. Some day I may even start calling myself
ROLLER THE HORRIBLE FROM HONOLULU. After what we have been through! We have
fought for the right to play-around and be light-hearted about the use of our
"cute" names. I find TERRIBLE TOM to be highly amusing. Because I was good
natured and did not get instantly angry over the usual SNAFUs and FUBARs we
experienced with the locals, my team members named me HANGFIRE. I didn't
explode when dropped down the tube. I knew where they were coming from, the
name fit the situation, it was deserved and I enjoyed the humor it implied as
much as the others did.
Onward Christian Soldier, Onward.
Take good care -------------
Narrow Seadog Two Two
I'm a former war criminal.
DUCTI AMORE PATIAE
"Having been led by love of country"
Saturday, November 22, 2008
http.//tomschuckmanjournal.blogspot.com Heli gunner Tom at Saturday, November 22, 2008