Hard lesson

There was dirt and dust; soil the color of rust

Fire and smoke often filled the air.

There were boys dressed in green with the title Marine

In a land where nobody cared.

They were sorely battle worn while their Flag was being torn

In the good ole U.S. of A.

Those who survive to tell how they lived through that hell

Count the Heroes who died today.

They were too young to die yet they had honor and pride;

Their Spirits soar in the Heavens today.

Wandering in jungles and hills, through swamps and through 'villes

In search of the hopeless dream.

They wanted peace to remain, and to die not in vain

So that someday others may say

That the sacrifice of youth who fought for Freedom and Truth

Is a price much too precious to pay.

© Richard D. Preston

The next few weeks were a time of getting to know those who were around you. There was Chuck from Connecticut, he and I hooked up stateside and wound up together here. He was a crazy sort and we hit it off real good. The night before we left for Nam we got kicked out of a motel in Whittier California. Seems that we were on the third floor balcony, and the swimming pool looked real inviting. We jumped in from the balcony, and were kicked out of the place by an irate manager. No sense of humor I guess. Then there was Pineapple, we became good friends and went through some shit together. He rotated back to the world a few months or so before I did, but we spent a good eight months in country together. These two were the only ones I would get close to after losing some good friends to Nam already. Between the three of us we kept each otherís sanity in check, or should I say insanity. 

After about a month the smiling 100-pound Redneck rotated back to the world, so I understood why he was always smiling. Now He was in his own little world for sure, looking spook eyed and smiling at his family from across his own dinner table. That shit eating grin he wore would give his family cause to wonder. Now they could watch him, and wonder what the hell Vietnam did to their son. The Nam was a life changing experience for sure. Nobody came and left the same way; it was a fact of life. The change could happen in a day or over a thirteen-month tour, but it would happen and it would alter ones outlook on life, and little did we know that it would alter our lives forever.

I tried to get in touch with Chuck Montooth back in 1983 0r 1984. I got in touch with his mother. I came to find out that Chuck had died in a hotel room in Hartford Conn. She told me he died in his sleep. From that moment on I have never tried to contact any of my Nam buddies again.



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