Saturday, May 7, 2011

What I Really Did In Vietnam -- Part 9

The plane stopped in Japan for refueling and then headed to Seattle, WA.  After we landed, we walked by the protesters, got into a bus and headed for Fort Lewis where we were served steaks.

Some Col gave a speech we were all sure had been played hundreds of times to men arriving every day.and after a bit of debriefing, we got back on the bus heading Sea-Tac. I was holding my orders and plane tickets heading east to Philadelphia, Pa.

I don't remember much about the plane trip to Chicago and then to Philly, I think I was talking to much to people on the plane wanting to know what it was like to be in Vietnam. Anyway, we arrived at the airport and I went on bus to 250 S. Church St, Moorestown, NJ.  I was finally back home.

I do know my newly honed reporter instincts were working overtime trying to drink in all the human actions and reaction along the way.
When you arrive back home in the States, the first thing you realize is your back in a world where no one is burning human waste first thing in the morning, the cops are pulling out a gun on you if you don't listen to him, the women aren't squatting on the side of the road relieving themselves and you don't have Water Buffalo snorting and charging at you.

More importantly, there's lots of pretty women, you're not having to eat Roast Beef for breakfest, lunch and dinner, chicken man is off in another world waking you up and people are going about their business like you're just another human being -- just another American -- living in America.

Still, you know your being watched. You're wearing a uniform with ribbons and medals.  You have only one patch on your shoulder -- your unit patch.

For many who only had two years to serve, the war of having to be in the military and being forced to go to a war you didn't believe in, either your time is up or you have less than a year to play Army and your done with this mess.

As for people like myself -- idiots who signed up for three years thinking you had some control over your destiny,  watching all this unravel and knowing you still have twice the time left -- you couldn't help but feel you've been played like a fool.

Still, the promise of a job at Fort Holabird Maryland with fresh opportunities and new people to meat felt uncomfortable and exciting at the same time. Like being in a dive in a Cobra and depending on the pilot to pull the Cobra out of the dive at the right time.

There was never a thought that didn't have a destiny, never a fantasy that didn't kick you in the butt, and never a time when time stood still.  Only my mind was still thinking about what I didn't do while I was there and what I did do.

And then suddenly a smile. The only person best suited to give it your best was you. No matter what others thought, no matter what could have been, should have been or would have been, If you were being honest and true and you learned as much as you taught,  you did it right.

The reflection of a realization, it didn't matter anymore.  I was home, in one piece and had a ton of stories to tell if anyone cared to listen. One of them, the one I wrote and got published in Army Times, was in my pocket.

What I didn't know back then, what I know now, is this was just the beginning of a 10 year adventure with my own personal rendezvous with destiny.

Two weeks away from reporting to The United States Army Intelligence Center And School. I was going to make the best of those 14 days.

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