May We Never Forget
by Clyde Boswell
One of my jobs while attached to a certain troop carrier squadron in Nam was to ferry the dead or almost dead to the morgue at Da Nang or to the hospital in Japan. There was nothing easy about this job. I suppose that other than having to leave my wife and son behind for a year, this was quite possibly the most difficult time of my life. I still have terrible flashbacks at times of having to place black plastic body bags inside the airplane, strapping them to the floor .
On one such mission, a young soldier was in critical condition and was being flown along with other soldiers to Japan to the military hospital in hopes of saving their lives. This young man wanted only to see his home again. It’s been so long ago that his name and hometown escape me. Doesn’t really matter because there were many in the same situation.
We had nurses and doctors who tried to keep these young men alive on these flights to Japan. They did all they could possibly do to see that these men made it. Some made it, some did not. The young man I refer to did not.
“I miss home,” he told me. “Sir, will I get to see my folks again?”
I looked at the nurse; she could only shake her head “no.” Seeing someone die really hurts. Especially someone so young.
“If I don’t make this trip,” he said, “please promise me you will never let America forget those of us who gave it all here in the jungles and rice patties so far from our homes.”
I made this promise to the soldier, and every day I try to remind people of those young men who serve so proudly and the many who gave their lives for people who seemed to care less.
When Beth Jacks asked me over a year ago to write an article for USADEEPSOUTH, I was given an opportunity to live up to the promise I made not only to that young man who died on the airplane but to all those almost sixty thousand who gave all they had for freedom. I didn’t know all of them, of course, but I know if they were here today they would do the same for me and they would serve again proudly. That’s what makes this nation we call America such a great and wonderful nation. All I can say is that as long as I live, I will always remind America of the sacrifices that were made in Viet Nam.
For you see, we came back to a nation that called us baby killers and warmongers. But as the years have come and gone, many of us have forgiven, but not forgotten, a nation that sent us to fight a war that wasn’t a war that cost us so many young soldier’s lives. Families lost their loved ones . . . and for what?
As I sit here typing this message I am crying like a little baby. I can see and feel that young man’s eyes burning, ever burning, in my heart and hear his words: “Please don’t let them forget.”
I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Syndrome. Long words for battle scars. I see, feel, and even hear in my sleep and dreams at times, Viet Nam. I can even smell the JP-4 jet fuel. I hear the dying, and it tears my heart out.
Don’t let them forget us -- so our children and their children will never be in this situation again. Do not worry, my comrades, as long as I live America will remember your sacrifices in a country so far away from home. Sleep well, my comrades, until that day comes when we shall all be together again where we will not know death and pain and suffering.
On this upcoming Veterans Day, may I say to America: Please remember all veterans and tell them you support them in what they do. Remember they are the folks who put their lives on the line for you every day. May I also say to the parents who have lost sons and daughters in the deserts of Iraq and Afghanistan that you can be proud of your children. America is in good hands.
May God bless America always, and may the Stars and Stripes forever wave over the land of the free.
Mississippi Delta native Clyde Boswell is retired from the postal system, but stays busy with writing, singing, and playing with his grandkids. Readers may write Clyde at this address.
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